Tale Of Two Downbursts

Published on September 12th, 2017

Scuttlebutt World Headquarters is based in Southern California, which means we know very little about weather. It’s a little colder in the winter than the summer, the wind doesn’t settle in for racing until noon, and one umbrella can last a lifetime. That’s about it.

Despite our lack of variety, we do recognize how much weather impacts our sport in other regions, and how knowledge can make our sport much more enjoyable. Great Lakes meteorologist Mark Thornton shares lessons from two notable events that got smackered by weather events.


Lake Michigan sailors have had a challenging summer. In mid-July, competitors in the Chicago-Mac were treated to a rare type of downburst known as heat burst (or dry downburst) near Milwaukee late on Saturday night (click here for summary). Three weeks later, sailors at the T-10 North American Championship near Chicago had an encounter with a different kind of downburst, one that blasted the fleet with hurricane-force winds.

These downbursts, while similar in some ways, are very different in others. The downburst at the T-10 Nationals offers an opportunity to introduce a pair of relatively unknown Doppler weather radar products – storm heights (echo tops) and vertically integrated liquid (VIL) – that can help shed light on the evolution of an approaching thunderstorm.

Full report… click here.

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