Not A Tornado: Straight-Line Winds

Tornadoes are known for their powerful, destructive winds. But tornadoes aren’t the only times winds can reach deadly speeds. Straigt-line Winds (also known as “Damaging Winds”) come from sources OTHER than a tornado, and the damage they cause may be just as destructive. The aftermath looks very different to those trained to tell the difference.

To be considered “damaging winds,” the air must be blowing in excess of 50-60 mph.

The fact is that severe thunderstorm winds account for nearly HALF of all severe damage reported in most of America! That makes straight-line wind damage more common than damage from tornadoes. These Wind speeds can reach up to 100 mph and can produce a damage path extending for hundreds of miles.

Nearly all thunderstorms produce some straight-line winds. These winds are a result of “outflow” generated by the thunderstorm’s downdraft (the downward current of air that comes from the storm).

Damage caused by winds from tornadoes will fall in a circular pattern. And, as the name implies, damage from straight line winds will occur in mostly straight lines.