Microburst Storm Damage in the East Valley
The Arizona summer monsoon season, lasting from June through September, is iconic in photographs of towering clouds, massive walls of dust, and vivid shows of lightning in the sky. But Arizona residents know the danger hiding in these storms is the intense, unpredictable winds of a microburst.
What is a Microburst?
These sudden bursts of powerful wind develop with no warning signs, making them impossible to predict and extremely dangerous.
The column of cooling air inside a thunderstorm cell plummets to the ground, then spreads out in all directions. This creates a circular pattern of storm damage, with the most intense damage in the middle of the circle, and a debris field radiating out from the center.
The national weather service summarizes them as:
The affected area is usually less than 2 miles in diameter.
- Quick to Develop
Rapidly sinking air in a thunderstorm cell causes a microburst in seconds. There's no time to prepare or escape.
- Massive Damage
Wind speeds can reach over 120 miles per hour.
They accompany heavy rain and sometimes large hail.
Microburst vs. Tornado Damage
A microburst and tornado are similar in that damage results from extremely high winds in circular patterns. However, unlike tornado damage, microburst damage happens only in the initial downdraft location and its immediate circular area.
They are very short-lived, which makes it nearly impossible to predict where they will occur and issuing warnings to those in the danger zone. As soon as the downdraft of the microburst appears on weather radar, it means it is occurring in real time.
Tornados develop slower and last longer. Their characteristic wind patterns are visible on radar, making tracking their development and progress across the ground a little easier. This usually allows some advanced warning for those in the predicted path.
In the east valley, dangerous microbursts are possible whenever the National Weather Service issues severe thunderstorm warnings for your area. Here are some tips on how to stay safe during an Arizona thunderstorm.
Valley Metro Microburst Damage
Wind speeds in a microburst rival that of tornadoes, so there is the potential for significant property damage and loss of life.
Every summer, area news stories carry images of flattened power poles, fallen trees, and severely damaged homes.
In this local news video, you can feel the power of the winds that twisted metal utility poles and completely demolished a single-wide manufactured home.
Microburst Winds Can:
- Smash fences, break windows, and decimate walls.
- Break large branches and uproot trees.
- Flip over high-profile vehicles, campers, and mobile homes.
- Pick up and carry dangerous debris at high speeds.
Learn more from Maricopa County's guide to Damaging Winds.
How to Protect Trees from a Microburst Event
It's wonderful to have mature trees on your property. They are pretty, provide cooling shade, and are part of a healthy eco-system for wildlife. But every summer the east valley experiences significant tree damage caused by rainstorms, haboobs, and microbursts.
Reduce the risk of tree damage (along with property damage from fallen trees):
- Water at the edge of the tree’s canopy, not along its roots. This promotes a strong and healthy root system.
- Use the correct amount of water for the species of tree. Some need more water than others. Over-watering leads to weak root systems, meaning the tree is top-heavy with less underground support.
- Trim appropriately. Too much or too little trimming for the species actually weakens the tree.
Do You Need Honest, Experienced, FAST Help with Storm Damage?
ATH is ready to respond 24/7 with emergency service in the east valley for monsoon-related storm damage to include the devastating effects of a microburst or flooding.
We will secure your property, prevent further damage, and get you on the road to restoration quickly. And we'll also help with insurance reporting and claim filing, so you don’t have to go it alone.