Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government


A microburst is a localized column of sinking air that produces damaging winds near the ground. The high winds of a microburst can knock over full grown trees. The wind burst will typically last a few seconds. There are two types of microbursts: wet microbursts and dry microbursts.

Pay attention to high wind advisories and high wind warnings issued by the National Weather Service. Stay indoors if a high wind advisory or warning is in effect. Wind storms toppled thousands of trees on the Arapahoe National Forest in Colorado in 2012. The dead trees were rotted at the base, and the needles of the live trees were "catching the wind like sails." (U.S. Forest Service)

  • Take shelter immediately if there are high winds in the area you are visiting.
  • Watch out for falling trees and limbs, and flying debris.
  • Be careful when driving. Strong winds can make driving difficult, especially high profile vehicles such as motorhomes, campers and trucks. Be careful on bridges and overpasses.

Tune in to local weather forecasts and bulletins issued by the National Weather Service. Visit for weather updates. 

Dust storms

Dust storms usually arrive with little warning and an advancing wall of dust and debris that can be miles long and several thousand feet high. Although they usually last only minutes, they can produce blinding, choking dust that reduces visibility and cause accidents.

  • If dense dust is observed blowing across a road or approaching in your direction, pull your vehicle off the pavement as far as possible, stop, turn off lights, and set the emergency brake. Be sure to take your foot off of the brake pedal and that all tail lights are not illuminated to avoid another driver mistakenly going toward your vehicle in the belief that you are on the road.
  • Don't enter the dust storm area if you can avoid it.
  • If you can't pull off the roadway, continue at a speed suitable for visibility, turn on your headlights and sound horn occasionally. Use the painted center line to help guide you as you look for a safe place to pull off the road.
  • Never stop on the traveled portion of the road.

Sources: Forest Service, National Weather Service,

Remember: You are responsible for the safety of yourself and for those around you.