mi·​cro·​burst ˈmī-krō-ˌbərst How to pronounce microburst (audio)
: a violent short-lived localized downdraft that creates extreme wind shears at low altitudes and is usually associated with thunderstorms

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Credit for the invention of the word microburst is generally given to tornado expert Tetsuya Theodore Fujita. Fujita first described these extremely intense wind patterns in 1974. He noted that microbursts are usually short-lived, lasting only 5 to 15 minutes, but that they are extremely dangerous, especially for aircraft, because they cause sudden unexpected changes in wind direction or speed. Since the mid-1970s, many airports have installed Doppler radar systems to help detect potentially deadly microbursts.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Near Harlan in Allen County Time: 11:44 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. EF rating: EF-0 Peak winds: 75 mph Path length: 1.14 miles Max width: 75 yards Deaths/injuries: 0/0 Summary: A brief, weak, and short-lived EF-0 tornado formed in response to a microburst that occurred to the south. Cheryl V. Jackson, The Indianapolis Star, 3 Apr. 2023 In Penn Yan, N.Y., four people sustained minor injuries when a large structure under construction toppled due to strong winds and what some guessed was a microburst, though it could not be confirmed. Julia Musto, Fox News, 27 May 2021 Already trailside is a preserved section of the 300-year-old white oak tree that was felled between South Park Boulevard and Lower Shaker Lake during the microburst that swept through on Sept. 13, 2019. Thomas Jewell, cleveland, 19 July 2021 The city received a little over 2 inches of rain Monday evening in what Boydston called a microburst. Mike Jones, Arkansas Online, 1 Sep. 2022 Some San Antoninas got a respite from the relentless summer heat on Monday when a wet microburst passed through the area. Shepard Price, San Antonio Express-News, 9 Aug. 2022 One particularly intense microburst caused tree damage around Alexandria and Landmark. Jeff Halverson, Washington Post, 4 Aug. 2022 Meteorologists called it a microburst—a brief, extreme downdraft within a thunderstorm that hit one small segment of the little peninsula of Catawba Island. Lorraine Boissoneault, The New Yorker, 30 July 2022 Connors said weather service personnel from Maine were headed to the area Tuesday as part an effort to verify whether a tornado, or something else like a microburst, had ripped through his community Monday. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 17 May 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'microburst.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1980, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of microburst was in 1980


Dictionary Entries Near microburst

Cite this Entry

“Microburst.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microburst. Accessed 9 Jun. 2023.

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