How to stay safe from these winds that can cause severe damage.
According to The National Severe Storms Laboratory
, “Damaging winds are often called straight-line winds to differentiate the damage they cause from tornado damage.” Severe thunderstorms
can create these straight-line winds which exceed 50 to 60 mph. The winds can pack a major punch, uprooting trees and knocking down power lines, similar to the destructive power of a tornado.
What are straight-line winds?
Straight-line winds can come in many forms. The common types are:
- Downburst. A general term used to broadly describe all strong wind events localized in an area that are caused by a strong downdraft within a thunderstorm.
- Downdraft. A column of air that that rapidly sinks towards the ground.
- Macroburst. An outward burst of strong winds near the surface. Usually has a dimension larger than 2.5 miles (4km) when the downdraft reaches the surface.
- Microburst. A downburst that is concentrated and produces an outward burst of strong air near the surface.
- Derecho. A system of merged thunderstorms up to 65 miles wide that travels in a straight line, causing wind damage across an area of at least 240 miles. Wind speeds can top 100 mph.
Straight-line winds can cause the same level of damage as tornadoes
, but they lack the atmospheric rotation to form a funnel cloud. The aftermath will show the difference: If downed trees and other kinds of debris are in parallel rows, that signifies straight-line winds. Tornado damage is more sporadic and widespread.
How to stay safe from straight line winds
Straight-line wind safety resembles tornado safety tips
. Keep these tips in mind the next time your area has a severe thunderstorm warning:
- Find shelter immediately — or crouch down in the lowest spot you can find.
- Bring in or secure anything that's loose outside, such as lawn furniture, toys and bicycles.
- Stay away from trees and power lines.
- Go to the lowest level of your home and steer clear of windows.
- If you're driving, pull over to a safe area with your vehicle in the direction of the wind.
Learn severe weather safety tips
on Simple Insights®.