Thursday, 29 May 2014

MICROBURSTS: WHY THEY ARE DANGEROUS

Of all the types of wind storms, microbursts are the most deceptive sort. The weather might look ordinary and harmless enough but a microburst could suddenly start without warning. I can recall many of these sudden wind storms hitting almost instantly while I watched.

The first one I can remember was when I was about four years old. As my sister Diane and I sat playing on the grass near the road, the wind began to increase in speed. Diane wanted to go into the house but I thought the wind posed no danger to us. Mom called for us to come in but I said I wanted to stay outside. When she ordered us in, I decided she meant business. About fifteen minutes later, the wind slowed back down to a breeze.

It might have been the same summer when another microburst struck. Diane and I were playing happily in the Lions Club wading pool when the wind suddenly picked up. The life guard ordered everybody into the utility building next to the pool. As we were crammed into that small space, some children started crying while others chattered excitedly. The life guard told us we couldn't go until the wind stopped and our parents came for us. I learned later from Diane that a park bench had been blown into the wading pool.

As an adult, I recall two summertime microbursts. As I weeded the lawn of my first house, the wind suddenly started howling. I thought of going indoors but the wind by the back door was too strong. Since the house was between me and the rushing air, I lay on the grass and waited out the storm. The sky even turned brown as dirt was whipped up into the sky above me. As suddenly as it started, the wind slowed to a breeze again.

One summer morning in 1999, I awoke to a rushing noise outside. I dashed to the bedroom window and opened it. The wind was blowing debris along the street, yet the sky wasn't filled with dark clouds. Like other microbursts that I experienced, the wind suddenly died down a few minutes later.

As I listened to the radio during breakfast, I heard an explanation of this weather phenomenon. There are times when pools of cold air aloft suddenly lose the support of the warmer air under them. The air rushes straight toward the ground, then fans out in all directions. Though this can happen during thunder storms, it isn't limited to that sort of weather.

The next time the wind suddenly speeds up, it could very well be a microburst. It's best to find shelter to keep yourself safe from flying debris. I certainly won't insist on staying outside if it happens to me again.

I can't think of a good segue from violent wind storms to my books so I'll say that my first two paperbacks are available at Bruce Atchison's books. How I Was Razed can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and virtual Bookworm Publishers.