Case Study – Rehoboth Beach Storm Damage

Out of shock to many early this morning was a supercell thunderstorm through the hours of 4-6 AM. A storm that was fueled by a very small MCV (Mesoscale Convective Vortex) from Dorchester County Into Sussex County. First started off in the Chesapeake bay around 4am moving fairly rapidly towards the north and east. First Severe Warning popped around 4:08 am for Southwestern Sussex County.

Reports of hail up to the size of half dollars in the Delmar region with some strong gusty winds. As this storm continued to move across Sussex county, it made one last stop at the beaches to deliver the final blow. Rehoboth beach suffered significant tree damage throughout the downtown district with downed power lines, whole trees uprooted landing on vehicles and even some structural damage. Many claimed this damage was caused by a tornado, but that’s not the case.

What happened in Rehoboth Beach this morning was a Microburst. A microburst is a localized column of sinking air (downdraft) within a thunderstorm and is usually less than or equal to 2.5 miles in diameter. Microbursts can cause extensive damage at the surface, and in some instances, can be life-threatening. We can easily see the divergence of winds (winds pulling away from each other on radar) from KDOX right over downtown Rehoboth. Winds estimated from the damage photos provided up to 80 mph.

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