We've seen the damage that severe weather can do, but it's not just tornadoes that are responsible for the most serious and costly damage we see. Microbursts are a common weather phenomenon, seen often during summer months.
Recent strong to severe storms have rolled across southeastern North Carolina have caused microbursts to form.
One woman from Bladen County experienced damage from one of these extreme wind and rain events on July 24. Her mobile home was destroyed.
Louise Jones, 71, thought it was a typical stormy, summer afternoon.
"I was here sitting in my recliner watching the wind and rain out the window," Jones recalled. Then, all of a sudden, "The roof starts flying away and I thought, ‘Well this…this is bad.'"
Bad is an understatement.
Jones quickly realized her mobile home was in jeopardy.
"I have a handicapped son who's a stroke survivor," Jones explained. "He said, ‘Mom, I hear water running over my head.' I told him to get out and just after we got him into the wheelchair, the roof fell right on top of his bed where he was laying."
Jones didn't realize this wasn't a tornado ripping apart her home. Instead, it was a microburst.
"A microburst is an area of strong winds that is generated from a thunderstorm," NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Steven Pfaff explained. "The analogy would be a bowling ball of wind and rain. When the thunderstorm can't support all of that rain, the updraft weakens and all of that comes crashing down, like pulling the plug on a sink."
Unlike tornadoes, microbursts are generally confined to a two-mile radius. However, microbursts are seen more often, especially this time of year. The NWS hopes people take them just as seriously.
"If a special weather statement or severe thunderstorm warning is issued, then you should treat it like you will see damaging winds from the storm," Pfaff said.
Jones experienced first hand those damaging winds Pfaff spoke about. They're the reason her home is no longer livable.
She hopes to find a repo home or gently used home because it would simply cost too much and take too long to repair her current mobile home.
"Guess I gotta start all over again…at my age!" Jones laughed. "I'm very blessed, very blessed no one was hurt. God was with us."
Jones has lived in the same mobile home in the Carvers Creek area for 22 years, witnessing many strong storms and living through many hurricanes, but nothing like a microburst.
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