Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
November 1st, 2015
Episode 367 of 903 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 01, 2015 is: microburst \MY-kroh-burst\ noun : a violent short-lived localized downdraft that creates extreme wind shears at low altitudes and is usually associated with thunderstorms Examples: "A microburst struck Osage City early Friday, causing downed trees and power lines, closing the town's schools and making streets nearly impassable, said Police Chief Fred Nech." Ann Marie Bush, The Topeka (Kansas) Capital-Journal, 18 Sept. 2015 "One farmer has captured an unusually good video of a severe microbursta massive shaft of cold air that plunges to the Earthin a thunderstorm in outback Queensland." Jenni Ryall, Mashable (mashable.com), 27 Jan. 2015 Did you know? Credit for the invention of the word microburst is generally given to tornado expert Tetsuya Theodore Fujita. Fujita first described these extremely intense wind patterns in 1974. He noted that microbursts are usually short-lived, lasting only 5 to 15 minutes, but that they are extremely dangerous, especially for aircraft, because they cause sudden unexpected changes in wind direction or speed. Since the mid-1970s, many airports have installed Doppler radar systems to help detect potentially deadly microbursts.