Microbursts

Stuart Walker explains why a microburst could be the one gust you would rather forget. "From the Experts" from our September 1996 issue.

Sailing World
Microbursts
-Sailing World Archives

Stuart Walker takes a closer look at what causes microbursts--those extreme examples of common downdrafts--after a tragedy on Lake Norman, N.C., in May 1989.

"For five to eight minutes, 'the lake itself seemed to be lifted from its bed,' a mixture of 'lake water, rain and hail' blew 'like a fire hose' in a layer 10-feet deep across its surface, and 7 foot waves broke over its banks and flooded ashore," writes Walker. "The downburst that hit the lake must have come from nearly overhead, must have impacted a relatively small area, and as it splashed across the surface, must have affected even nearby boats quite differently."

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