A fascinating video captures a mushroom-cloud like storm that dumped localized hail and rain across a swath of Calgary.
In a timelapse video, the storm cell, called a ‘microburst,’ is shown rolling across the sky, with its cylindrical plume of precipitation rising up and connecting with the clouds to form what some might have confused for a tornado.
According to the National Weather Service, microbursts happen when a thunderstorm begins to suspend water droplets and hail in its updraft.
Sometimes, if the updraft is strong enough, large amounts of precipitation get caught in the upper portion of the storm.
As the draft dissipates and the storm shifts, however, the droplets and hail are released, unleashing a deluge of rain and ice particles onto the ground.
In some cases, these types of storms can lead to extreme damage on the areas in which they fall.
On top of powerful precipitation, the storms can also unleash winds up to 100 mph which is why the National Weather Service says the storm should be taken as seriously as tornado warnings.
In the case of this particular storm caught by onlookers in Calgary, winds were reportedly mild in comparison to other storms of its kind, according to GlobalNews.
The hail produced by storms can also create significant problems, though according to Global News the hail produced by Calgary’s microburst was mostly harmless aside from a few reports of ‘quarter-sized’ hail in some neighborhoods.
According to the National Weather Service , microbursts happen when a thunderstorm begins to suspend water droplets and hail in its updraft. They can sometimes lead to extreme damage
Microbursts are typically generated by the confluence of several weather conditions including strong winds and dry air mixing and high precipitable water.
They also often occur in hot and humid summer months.
Adding to their potential danger, the furious storms are often difficult to predict as they form quickly and can be very fleeting, often lasting between five and 10 minutes.
‘Unfortunately, Severe Thunderstorm Warning lead times for microbursts can be very short, or there may be no warning at all,’ says the National Weather Service.
The storms are reportedly somewhat common in Alberta, especially Calgary, which is among the cities that experience thunderstorms most frequently in Canada.
WHAT IS A ‘MICROBURST’ STORM?
A microburst is a localized column of sinking air within a thunderstorm and is usually about 2.5 miles in diameter.
Microbursts can cause extensive damage at the surface, and in some instances, can be life-threatening.
There are two primary types of microbursts, wet microbursts and, dry microbursts.
Wet microbursts are accompanied by significant precipitation and are common in the Southeast during the summer months.
It all starts with the development of a thunderstorm and the water droplets/hailstones being suspended within the updraft.
Sometimes an updraft is so strong it suspends large amounts of these droplets and hailstones in the upper portions of the thunderstorm.
There are many factors that can lead to evaporational cooling (sinking air) and therefore weakening of the updraft.
Once this occurs, the storm is no longer capable of holding the large core of rain/hail up in the thunderstorm.
As a result, the core plummets to the ground. As it hits the ground it spreads out in all directions.
The location in which the microburst first hits the ground experiences the highest winds and greatest damage.
Source: The National Weather Service