mi·​cro·​burst | \ ˈmī-krō-ˌbərst How to pronounce microburst (audio) \

Definition of microburst

: 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.

Examples of microburst in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Any storm that develops could be plenty strong, with frequent lightning, small hail and strong wind gusts with the potential for a few wet microbursts. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, "Storms likely this afternoon and evening, and a few could be intense," 19 June 2018 Luckily, during a strong thunderstorm in Tucson, Arizona, Bryan Snider Photography captured a wet microburst on camera. Rebecca Shinners, Country Living, "You Will Not Be Able to Tear Your Eyes Away From This Mesmerizing Microburst," 18 Aug. 2015 However, there remains the prospect of frequent lightning, and an isolated wet microburst or two in which a pocket of damaging winds hits a relatively small area. Jeff Halverson, Washington Post, "The D.C. region is likely to be the target of more heavy rain and possible flooding through the weekend," 30 May 2018 Sheridan County Sheriff Heidi Williamson said a microburst with speeds up to 118 mph destroyed at least nine small airplanes at the airport in Plentywood. CBS News, "Newborn baby killed, dozens injured when tornado strikes North Dakota city," 11 July 2018 The National Weather Service computer showed a tornado with winds of 228 mph on San Jose and a total later of 38 tornadoes in the eyewall, others not well defined and numerous microbursts, Rios said. John Goodspeed, San Antonio Express-News, "Rockport recovery," 21 June 2018 Thunderstorms over the weekend likely produced microbursts in central and west central Ohio, with winds estimated over 60 mph. Sarah Brookbank, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati weather: Storms on the way Tuesday, heat will drop gradually this week," 19 June 2018 Even before inspecting what was left behind, meteorologists had a hunch that the damage was commensurate with a tornado and not a microburst. Matthew Cappucci, Washington Post, "Striking in the dark of night, the Wilkes-Barre tornado was a freak," 15 June 2018 More than 150,000 homes and businesses went dark after Tuesday’s storms, which included four tornadoes, a macroburst and a microburst. Dave Altimari, courant.com, "Utility Company Says Tuesday's Storm Caused More Damage To State's Electrical System Than Superstorm Sandy," 20 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'microburst.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of microburst

1980, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of microburst was in 1980

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More from Merriam-Webster on microburst

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about microburst

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