By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4) – Several people in south Denver reported powerful, abrupt wind gusts just after 12 p.m. on Tuesday. The National Weather Service in Boulder received a report that a large blue spruce tree fell onto a car about four miles northwest of Cherry Creek State Park.

CBS4 Photojournalist Robert Sanchez found two large trees in the picture below knocked onto homes in the 1900 block of South Clarkson Street.

These trees were knocked over during a dry microburst early Tuesday. (credit: CBS)

A number of people on twitter reported power outages just after the wind reports. Xcel Energy’s outage map showed over 3,000 customers without power in the vicinity of Hampden and Tamarac.

A microburst happens when a thundershower or thunderstorm is trying to develop but the air near the ground is too dry to support it. Several thousand feet up where the clouds are it is often raining but that water evaporates when it falls into the drier air below.

Because evaporation is a cooling process the evaporated rain leaves a pocket of colder air suspended above the ground. Since colder air is more dense than the surrounding air it rushes to the ground and often catches people off guard.

Since there is no precipitation involved at the ground it is called a dry microburst. The wind gusts can be strong enough to cause minor damage. Sprinkles can sometimes be felt during a dry microburst along with a drop in temperature.

Strong microburst wind gusts have also been reported today in Parker and Castle Rock.

Chris Spears

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