Friday, April 7, 2017

Rob and Tom's Neighborhood Storm Damage Report of a Downburst

Yesterday our neighborhood was hit with severe weather. Severe thunderstorms raced through and took down a lot of trees. Fortunately, we were spared, but others were not so lucky. Being a meteorologist, I (Rob) had to go out and survey the damage to determine if it were straight-line winds from a microburst (downdraft), or a tornado. Of course, Tom and the kids joined me, and Tom took the photos.
My map showing location of microburst and damage

North facing tree down west of Moylan Drive

North facing tree down west of Moylan Drive
The M Section of Bowie appears to have experienced a downburst from a thunderstorm around 2:05 p.m. EST on Thursday, April 6, 2017. I'm a meteorologist and hours after the storm I drove around and took photos and analyzed the damage. Many trees were down throughout the M Section but there was a pattern to their collapse. It was not a tornado. It was a downburst.

North facing tree down west of Moylan Drive
Northeast facing tree down east of Moylan Drive
DEFINITION OF A DOWNBURST - A downburst is a localized area of damaging winds caused by air rapidly flowing down and out of a thunderstorm.  The downdraft speeds in a thunderstorm must be unusually high and the air flows close to the ground/surface.  It isn't necessary for a thunderstorm to generate hail or tornadoes for it to create a downburst. Downbursts over a small area of less than 2½ miles wide and peak winds lasting less than 5 minutes is called a Microburst. Microbursts may induce dangerous horizontal/vertical wind shears, which can adversely affect aircraft performance and cause property damage.
Northeast facing tree down east of Moylan Drive
NOTE: Damage from downbursts can be so severe that it is mistaken for tornado damage. When examined, however, the damage pattern from a downburst will be either straight-line or divergent, indicating the winds were flowing outward, rather than in a circular, converging pattern as in the case of a tornado. 

THE STORMS - All of the storms were coming up from the south and pushing to the north-northeast in the 2 p.m. EST hour. According to the National Weather Service radar (that I was watching), the only tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service (who observed radar indicated rotation in a cloud) was northwest of Washington, D.C. and far from Bowie, Maryland. 

Northeast facing tree down east of Moylan Drive
THE DAMAGE - Throughout the west side of the M Section that includes the loop of Memphis Lane to the loop of Madonna Lane (which basically form a south to north oval), all of the trees downed were facing north. That part of the M Section is divided from north to south by Moylan Drive (a long street with a double yellow line). East of Moylan Drive, many of the trees were facing a northeast and easterly direction. 

LOCATION - So, I estimate that the microburst occurred somewhere between 2 p.m. and 2:05 p.m. and was centered near the Memphis Lane loop (and streets within), causing the northerly direction of damage, while the eastern side of the microburst caused trees east of the thunderstorm to fall facing the northeast and east. Think of a microburst as pushing your left hand down hard on a desk and your fingers spread out. The palm of your hand would fall into the Memphis Lane area, west of Moylan Drive, and your thumb and index finger would extend over the east of Moylan Drive.

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next