Climate and Weather


What is the effect of a microburst on aircraft?

Microbursts are downbursts with a diameter of 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) or less. Often associated with thunderstorms, they can generate winds of hurricane force that change direction abruptly. Headwinds can become tailwinds in a matter of seconds, resulting in a loss of airspeed and loss of altitude. After microbursts caused several major air catastrophes in the 1970s and 1980s, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) installed warning and radar systems at airports to alert pilots to wind shear and microburst conditions.


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