Weather News

Jul 31, 2014 1:01 PM by Stephen Bowers

Update: Fatal Baca County Wind Determined To Be A Microburst

Severe wind from a storm in Baca County hurled a mobile home, killing the man inside, around 12:45 AM Wednesday.

The National Weather Service in Pueblo sent team to survey the damage and determine its cause. The team members analyzed the damage intensity and how the debris was laying to determine whether it was a tornado, a microburst, or straight-line winds.

Their verdict: a mircoburst with winds of around 110 mph. Microbursts can do damage similar in nature to that of tornadoes. Microbursts can even have a swirl pattern in damage left by them. The swirl in the damage from a microburst tends to be in an outward spiral when it is present. Tornadoes, on the other hand, spiral inward toward the tornado's center. 

While tornadoes are associated with strong wind converging and flowing upward into a thunderstorm, microbursts are associated with outward bursts of air that drop down from the cloud, slamming into the ground at more than 100 mph.

The National Weather Service's survey team says the 300-yard-wide damage path was about one-tenth of a mile long and occurred about three-quarters of a mile east of Vilas in Baca County.

They said of the mobile home that was hurled by the wind that the home was tied down well and that none of the anchors were ripped from the ground. The tie downs to those anchors snapped, and the mobile home was lifted by the intense wind and thrown 250 feet. 

Microbursts are not uncommon in Colorado and occur when dry air entrains into the middle of a thunderstorm. The dry air cools the mid-layers by increasing evaporation. The colder, heavier, air then descends to the ground at speeds that are sometimes higher than 100 mph.

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