Downbursts roll through the Mountain State Tuesday


CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Rounds of strong thunderstorms came through north central West Virginia Tuesday afternoon.

This thunderstorm produced a strong surge of air that blew wind gusts up to 40 MPH in all directions in the northern half of the Mountain State. This is called a downburst.

Strong thunderstorm and rain shaft in the valley below University Town Centre in Granville. Picture: Ash Cutright

According to the National Weather Service, a downburst begins with a strong thunderstorm with a powerful updraft.

This will allow the cloud to stretch vertically and allow for raindrops and ice pellets (or hailstones) to begin development.

Hailstones falling in Frametown, WV in Braxton County. Video: Brandy Dellinger

Once hail and heavy rain begin to form, colder air builds in the middle of the cumulonimbus (or storm) cloud.

This causes the updraft to weaken and allows hailstones and heavy rain to fall from the storm cloud.

Downburst over Morgantown. Picture: Ash Cutright
Hailstone in Lefthand, WV in Roane County. Picture: Bridget Nicole

Once the updraft collapses, a strong burst of air from the storm pushes downward toward the ground and spreads strong wind gusts in all directions.

Rain from the downburst in Morgantown. Picture: Ash Cutright

This could cause power outages, flooding, and downed tree limbs from the burst of heavy rain and damaging wind gusts.

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