Jesse Ferrell

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Derechos Are Not Something That One Should Mess With, If One Were to Choose to

June 13, 2013; 2:34 PM

(The title of this blog was changed 6/14/13; apparently some of my readers did not like my Wu-Tang style.)

UPDATE: As Scott comments below, make sure to check this animation out: "Here's a hi-res Suomi NPP VIIRS IR image with overlays of SPC severe reports and lightning data: http://go.wisc.edu/9cf0aj"

There is much drama afoot on the Internet this morning as to whether or not last night's storm classified as a derecho. As I said with last year's storm, it really depends on how you measure it. The official definition is vague enough to go either way, and the public doesn't really care. The point is: It was a long-track, damaging group of thunderstorms and I hopefully the media prepared everyone for it sufficiently. In fact, I hope we overprepared people, because it's better than underprepared.

When the tip of the bow echo came through State College, Pa., this morning, it was a sight to see. I awoke so dumbfounded that I couldn't grab a camera in time to film more than the trail end of it. What I didn't catch on film was near-zero visibility and large trees bending like during a hurricane. This may have been the strongest storm that I've seen since living in State College. My weather station gusted to 54 mph, which is probably the #2 reading (if not #1) that I've measured since I moved here in 1997. (Cnt'd below)

It looked like the "Hurricane Henry" video from 2010. I wished that I had prepared better, but being on the edge of the Slight Risk and with the HRRR model insisting the line would weaken, I hadn't prepared my property sufficiently. Fortunately, I didn't have any damage, but other people in the city did (I took these pictures on the way to work). I've learned my lesson - similar to the Wu Tang Clan, derechos ain't nothin' to mess with.

The warnings and storm reports issued during that period (as well as the precip amounts) show a long-tracking, damaging system (although yes, some of the reports and warnings, mostly tornado items, occurred in supercell thunderstorms ahead of the main line). Even ignoring that the definition allows for "a period of winds below severe criteria," and assuming that the Pennsylvania gusts were not a result of the same system, it left a 230-mile line of damage from Peotone, Ill., to Fostoria, Ohio. The requirement is 240 miles, so yes, technically it didn't qualify - but that's a narrow margin of error if a late storm report comes in. Because it came so close, I definitely think that it was worth mentioning as a possibility in the forecast (this is my opinion -- other meteorologists here may disagree).

This is a very detailed neat satellite shot from 3 AM -- the overshooting tops in Central Pennsylvania gave us a very frequent, intense lightning show around 4 AM.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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About This Blog

Jesse Ferrell
Jesse Ferrell's WeatherMatrix blog covers extreme weather worldwide with a concentration on weather photos and Social Media.