A loud and dangerous wake up call hit the Brazos Valley Sunday morning around 3am. Strong winds, heavy rain and ample thunder and lightning rushed through Bryan / College Station leaving down power lines, trees, fences, and flooded roads & houses in the wake of it.
What Caused the Sudden Severe Weather
When sunlight hit the Bryan / College Station Sunday morning, many were left thinking that a tornado had hit.
While NOT a tornado, what we experienced was a "Wet Microburst" -- a downburst of wind associated with significant precipitation falling out of a thunderstorm.
Here's the time line of events that show just quick this thunderstorm escalated:
2:43am: A storm spotter 1 mile WSW of College Station reported wind blow rain of 50 to 60mph, but no damage.
2:50am: The National Weather Service issued a Significant Weather Advisory for Brazos and Grimes County until 3:30am for this strong storm with gusty winds, frequent lightning and heavy rainfall.
2:50am: The same storm spotter reported a wind gust between 60mph & 70mph, also noting lawn furniture, coke cans, cups, and a plastic bottle flying across the lawn. (Microburst was starting to take place)
2:59am: The National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Brazos and Grimes County until 3:30am, for rain in excess of 60mph and possible penny size hail.
What Is a Wet Microburst?
By definition, a Wet Microburst is: A convective downdraft with an affected outflow area of less than 2.5 miles wide and peak winds lasting less than 5 minutes. Microbursts may induce dangerous horizontal/vertical wind shears, which can adversely affect aircraft performance and cause property damage. (courtesy: NOAA)
Essentially, the bottom dropped out of a thunderstorm -- located over South College Station. As a large mass of rain fell from cloud to ground, the energy created caused winds to pick up well in excess of 60mph. As those winds hit the ground, they spread out in all directions, causing widespread, wind damage.
Downburst wind damage can be identified because trees, fences and other property was found lying in one direction versus being scattered in no general pattern.
Microbursts are hard to detect, until they are occurring, especially during dark overnight hours. Here is a similar storm from a few months ago in Kentucky to give perspective of what occurred in Bryan / College Station early Sunday morning: