Strong Microburst Hits Nevada Valley (Watch Video)

  • Jul 27, 2018

What’s a Microburst?

Before you watch this memorizing video of a microburst captured by the Nevada Seismological Laboratory, we think you might want to know what one is.

microburst is a strong downdraft from a storm with winds of 4 kilometers or less. There are two types of microbursts: Wet and dry. Like the name suggests, wet microbursts include precipitation.

Dry microbursts, on the other hand, typically consists of virga. For you budding meteorologists out there, virga is is an observable shaft of precipitation that evaporates or sublimates before reaching the ground.

Watch the Microburst Video

A microburst made its way across the Nevada Valley on July 20, 2018. The Nevada Seismological Laboratory caught the weather phenomenon on camera as it passed through the Green Valley area of the state. Check out their  video below:

The Las Vegas Review Journal reported the storm caused power outages and flooded streets in the Las Vegas Valley on Friday.

Beyond being fun to watch, this video is a great reminder of how important HD weather cameras can be. The more high quality cameras there are throughout the country, the more great videos like this one will exist. That provides the public, researchers, and meteorologists with views of weather difficult to come by. Pretty neat, huh?

Are Microbursts Dangerous?

The video above makes this microburst look pretty scary, right? Microbursts can be dangerous to humans, buildings, and aircrafts.

Earlier this year on May 15, a powerful front containing microbursts hit New York and Connecticut, killing 5 people. Microbursts cause all sorts of damage on the ground including flying debris, ruined electrical equipment, and structural damage.

For aircrafts, the threat is even worse. A microburst often causes an aircraft to crash when they are attempting to land. The air spreads in all directions after hitting the ground, which can increase the aircraft’s speed while heading towards the ground.

To help businesses and aircrafts protect themselves from microbursts and other dangerous conditions associated with strong storm cells we offer Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts (DTAs). DTAs give decision-makers the fastest lead times for severe weather. We’re able to provide these advanced warnings thanks to our Total Lightning Network because in-cloud lightning is key when predicting microbursts, cloud-to-ground lightning strikes, and hail.

You can learn more about DTAs by reading our free data sheet

Click here to read the DTA Data Sheet

Stages of a Microburst

Microburst evolution has three stages:

  • Contact stage
  • Outburst stage
  • Cushion stage


The contact stage is when the downburst initially develops, descends from the cloud, and begins to accelerate. Within minutes the downburst reaches the ground.

The outburst stage consists of the wind “curling” as the cold air of the downburst moves away from the point of impact with the ground.

Finally, the cushion stage sees the winds about the curl continue to accelerate while the winds at the surface slow due to friction.

Watch the video again to see if you can distinguish all of the stages.


Do you have more questions about microbursts and the various other conditions that accompany thunderstorms? Let us know in the comments below and one of our meteorologists would be more than happy to provide you with an answer.

Credit: Nevada Seismological Laboratory via Storyful