Captain Rick: Massive Mesquite trees were blown over by a 100 mph macroburst in Ashley Park, Chandler Arizona on July 13, 2014. These beautiful 17-year old Mesquite trees and the shade they provided during my daily morning walks are now history. I find it amazing…what ‘mother nature’ can destroy in a moment.


Click above image to view it in HDTV format on Captain Rick’s Flickr Photostream

This was the first macroburst I have ever witnessed. It is the opposite of a tornado. The wind rushes down a tunnel, rather than up. When the air aloft hits the ground, it rushes out in all directions at speeds that can reach over 100 miles per hour near the eye, as was apparent in this macroburst.

During the days after, I walked and bicycled many miles thru the neighborhood. For several days I heard the continual sound of chain saws and tree grinders. I have never seen so many trees downed, roofs and other structures damaged during my nearly two decades living in Arizona. From all of the damage I saw, I believe the above photo was taken extremely close to the eye of the macroburst.

Report from my Facebook page just after the storm:

Its been early March since we had a drop of rain in Gilbert…one of the longest dry spells I can remember.
We had our first monsoon storm blow in from the mountains to the east…with magnitude I have never experienced at my Arizona Oasis.
It brought some much needed rain…and lots of it. Part of my rear patio went under water as well as other areas of my oasis….
I measured 2.25” of rain in a pail and also in my pool, which is almost to the lower edge of the deck. That is a first during my 17 years at my Arizona Oasis.
It hailed for several minutes. I picked up one that measured almost 1/2”. That is a first during my 17 years at my Arizona Oasis.
The wind blew like I have never seen it blow…even during Hurricane Hugo which I experienced in North Carolina. I do not have a wind gage but I estimate that for a few minutes the wind blew at well over 50 mph…possibly over 100 mph. That is a first during my 17 years at my Arizona Oasis.
All is calm now and I am thankful for the much needed rain…but wow…did it all have to come at once with such vigor?

During my morning 5 mile walk and bicycle ride I toured most of the area within a half mile of my Oasis in all directions. I saw scores of trees blow over, some into houses creating roof damage. Some of the trees were huge…perhaps 50 feet tall or more. Some had their roots ripped right out of the ground. I could hear chain saws and tree grinders everywhere. From what I saw, the worst destruction happened within about a quarter mile in each direction…meaning my Oasis was the epicenter of what obviously was a microburst…first I ever experienced…and definitely the most violent weather I have ever experienced in my life, not only here in Arizona…but anywhere.
A microburst is the opposite of a tornado. The cold winds from above descend thru a tunnel and then spread rapidly outward along the ground creating tornado like winds…but in reverse. Microbursts have been measured at speeds of 175 mph+…rivaling tornadoes and dwarfing most hurricanes.
For about 2 minutes yesterday I saw the wind blow with massive rain and 1/2" hail coming down almost horizontal. There is no doubt in my mind that the wind was well over 100 mph. I have experienced 80 mph winds during Hurricane Hugo in North Carolina. Hugo was a ‘walk in the park’ compared to the microburst that hit my neighborhood yesterday. It took a couple hours to clean all of the leaves from my pool and yard. My skyline view from my patio has improved. A large tree that previously blocked the view of the International Space Station flying overhead, is mostly gone…thankfully not in my yard.

Today I extended my daily walk to 3 miles with Canon camera in hand. I got some awesome photos of massive trees that fell with roots pulled right out of the ground. I then hopped on my bicycle for an extra long 5 mile ride to tour all of the area to the east of me…also with camera. Scores of big trees down, some onto houses. Lots of tile roof damage. I captured a lot of photos. As I get time, the best of them will make it to my Flickr photostream in the full glory of Atridim WIDESCREEN…viewable full screen in 1080p on an HDTV.

All reports I have read and from the damage I have seen in the neighborhood…the recent Microburst was actually one of Arizona’s first Macrobursts…which rivals the destructive force of a tornado…except in reverse. The winds rush down the core tunnel and then outward across the surface at speeds up to 200 mph. Most of the downed trees have been cut up and removed. From what I could tell from my multi-mile walks and bike rides, the center of the macroburst occurred about 1/4 mile west of my house. There are still several gigantic roots structures ripped out of the ground remaining of large trees that all fell to the west. Several of the root structures on their side stand taller than me. It is an awesome sight. Looks like a massive hurricane went thru, but localized like a tornado. I captured some great photos that I will process to Atridim Widescreen for display on Flickr…when I get a chance.

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  1. Gordon Ray says:

    The problem is that none of the trees have deep roots. All the watering is surface watering. Desert mesquites need to go really deep to get water. The more we surface water, the more trees will tip over.
    Gordon Ray

    • atridim says:

      Note well taken…but many other kinds of trees went down as well. It is difficult for any tree to withstand 100 mph winds from a macroburst. A large percentage in my neighborhood did not.
      Captain Rick

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