Beach-goers were enjoying warm weather in Santa Barbara on Sunday when a bizarre microburst suddenly slammed the coast with rain and wind.
The storm system hit around 3 p.m., and according to some reports, wind gust speeds reached up to 80 mph.
“We’re trying to verify that,” says David Sweet with the Los Angeles National Weather Service. “Rumor has it that the wind speed was measured at 80 mph. If you look at the video of the event, you can say it’s at least 60 mph and possibly stronger than that.”
Sweet says people reported the strong winds lasting for several minutes.
The gusty conditions knocked down several trees in the Southern California beach town.
Leonard Diaz of Southern California took video footage of the storm system at Hendry’s Beach where beach umbrellas were blown over, chairs went flying and sunbathers fled for cover.
In the footage taken Sept. 3, you can hear someone shouting “Holy moly!”
Microbursts are associated with thunderstorms and occur when ascending winds suddenly collapse and descend rapidly as they hit cooler, dryer air underneath the storm.
“You have that air that was at one time climbing rapidly and then it suddenly descends and as it descends into the dry air, that air cools and the air gets heavier and it accelerates downward to the surface,” Sweet explains. “By the time, it hits the surface, it spreads out and the wind is very strong. It can be greater than 60 mph, even 100 mph.”
How common are microbursts?
“In the 20 years I’ve worked in this office, we had maybe a dozen.”