CARIBOU, Maine — The National Weather Service in Caribou has determined that the extreme weather that destroyed buildings in central Aroostook Monday evening was a microburst, not a tornado.
A microburst is a large downdraft during a thunderstorm that can unleash winds equal to the force of an F-1 tornado. However, the winds in a microburst don’t rotate or form a funnel.
In Limestone, the microburst probably produced winds between 100 and 110 miles an hour, the NWS report said, ripping much of one building from its foundation and tearing the roof off another. In the storm that moved from Castle Hill to Caribou, the damage was consistent with winds between 90 and 100 miles per hour.
A team of meteorologists determined the storm’s classification after surveying wind damage in Limestone, as well as a storm path from Castle Hill through Crouseville and southwestern Caribou. NWS meteorologist Priscilla Farrar said that the team checked the direction downed trees fell and specific damage to buildings to determine how — and how fast — the winds moved.
The severity of this storm was not typical for the area, Farrar said. But climate change is bringing increasingly extreme weather conditions to Maine, and will continue to cause more intense rainfall and winds during storms.