Thunderstorms can come with many different hazards and one of those hazards is a downburst. A downburst is the collapse of a thunderstorm that produces a lot of wind energy.

Strong thunderstorms require strong updraft winds to keep going. Updraft winds are the winds entering into a thunderstorm. During a downburst, the updraft winds weaken, causing wind and rain to surge toward the ground and spread out in all directions.

A downburst is classified by its size and is called either a microburst or a macroburst. A microburst is when the downburst is 2.5 miles wide or less. A macroburst is when the downburst is greater than 2.5 miles wide.

Whether the downbursts are micro or macro, they can cause a lot of damage from the high winds that come crashing to the ground. Sometimes, the damage can be comparable to a low-end tornado. The damage from a downburst can consist of major structural damage to leveled trees. Downbursts can also cause havoc in the air. Airplanes can drop altitude quickly in a downburst, sending planes toward the ground.

Conditions have to be right for a downburst to occur, and not every storm will produce a downburst. However, the storms that do result in a downburst are why it is important to take severe thunderstorm warnings seriously. You can get severe thunderstorm warnings for your location on your phone by downloading our Live Alert 19 app.