May’s 108.1mph Microburst

2012-06-09 17:39:36.000 – Christopher Gregg,  Summit Intern

Hays wind speed chart showing the event.

It’s great to be back on the summit. We had a few nice thunderstorms yesterday afternoon; however, they just didn’t quite compare to the storms we had on May, 29th. To be more specific, the downburst event that we experienced at 0910 EDT which produced a wind gust of 108.1mph. You always hear people talking about things that happen in an ‘It’s one thing to read about it, but another to experience it’ sort of sense with anything extreme; a downburst is certainly no exception. When I was younger I can remember hearing about microburst events from my uncle, a New Hampshire resident, and being filled with an overwhelming curiosity. This curiosity is similar to the curiosity one may have towards tornadoes, or even hurricanes, but downbursts have always had their own sort of…mystique. Studying something in a textbook can only mildly make you realize how powerful an event is, a video, moderately; to be there, then you get it.

I had just grabbed my all too usual cup of coffee (E pluribus unum) from the kitchen before heading upstairs as the storm was passing. Glued to the window, Roger and I marked down the time at which there was either lightning or thunder. There was a small window open in the weather room to help make the task easier, but the wind was blowing massive amounts of water inside, so we quickly changed that. At this time the winds were only between 30-40mph. A few more sips of coffee later, and I decided I’d grab my video camera and get a view outside the windows. Just as I grabbed the camera, I noticed the wind gauge wildly swinging, 80, 85, 90; it seemed to want to keep going, and then I started filming. In my book, seeing a downburst event is incredible, seeing the original measurements of such an event would be cool, but seeing the downburst and watching the event being recoded on wind-charts and barographs all in one moment? For a meteorology student, it’s something from some sort of fantastical dream. I am humbled by the opportunity to learn in such an extreme environment, and I’m glad I had my camera ready at the right moment as well.


Christopher Gregg,  Summit Intern

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