What is a Microburst?

A microburst is a phenomenon where a sudden violent burst of wind and rain come crashing down onto the ground.

As, Chris Ladd from Backpacker Magazine describes: it’s like a vertical hurricane.

In Phoenix, a microburst usually occurs during monsoon season.

Video of Microburst in Phoenix

A microburst occurs, when there is a thunderstorm. Sometimes, the rain may hit the ground and other times, the rain may evaporate before reaching the surface.

In any case, due to the thunderstorm, the air around the area becomes drastically cooled down.

This freshly cooled air begins to sink; very quickly.

As the cool air plummets down, an outpouring of strong wind blows within the area. This wind can read 2.5 miles in diameter.

The wind can reach up to 100 mph, creating a lot of damage along the way. Broken tree limbs, items flying up in the air… it can be quite the scene.

Driving During a Microburst

Due to bad visibility drivers can become confused. The best practice when driving is to pull off the road and wait the storm out. Although, you want to take these precautions, so that another driver doesn’t think you are driving:

  • Pull off the road
  • Turn off headlights
  • Foot OFF the brake pad


Typically a microburst will last about 20 minutes. So hang tight in your spot and know that it will quickly be over.

road with dark stormy clouds, microburst

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