Derecho tore path of destruction across nearly 800 miles in 14 hours, killed at least 1
Damaging storms swept across Iowa on Aug. 10, with winds near Iowa City flipping this truck on Interstate 80. The driver was okay.
An intense thunderstorm complex known as a derecho developed over the central United States on Monday, causing significant damage and widespread power outages as it blitzed eastward covering a nearly 800-mile stretch of the U.S. in 14 hours.
As officials in multiple states assessed widespread damage on Tuesday caused by wind gusts that exceeded 100 mph in some places, at least one fatality was blamed on the storm.
Thunderstorms ignited in southeastern South Dakota and eastern Nebraska on Monday morning, but gained strength and evolved into a derecho across central Iowa by midday. The worst of the storms focused on a zone from around Des Moines through Davenport, Iowa.
Large trees, branches, debris and power lines littered streets and yards all across Iowa and northern Illinois with many residents finding themselves in the dark in the wake of the storms.
The cluster of storms, which erupted in South Dakota, traveled approximately 770 miles in about 14 hours before it weakened in Ohio, according to the National Weather Service's (NWS) Storm Prediction Center (SPC).
Over 1 million were without power across Iowa and Illinois on Monday evening, according to PowerOutage.us. Entire communities were left in the dark in areas hit hardest by the complex of storms, such as the town of Ames, Iowa. As of Tuesday, nearly 1 million were still without power across Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.
Officials in Fort Wayne, Indiana, said a woman whose mobile home was obliterated by the storm died at the hospital after first responders rushed her there on Monday night, The Associated Press reported. According to the AP, firefighters found the woman, Isabel E. Atencio, trapped under debris from her destroyed home. She was unresponsive and appeared to be protecting a 5-year-old boy who is believed to be her grandson. Atencio, 73, was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead from blunt-force injuries, according to The Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly. The child suffered minor injuries.
The derecho raced eastward across the Midwest, causing destruction along its path on Monday, Aug. 10, 2020. (NWS Chicago)
Travel was disrupted on highways across the region, not only because of debris from the storms but also due to tractor tailors that were flipped on their sides due to the strong winds.
Major damage was reported in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the second-most populated city in the state. A wind gust of 100 mph was clocked in Hiawatha, which is just a few miles north of Cedar Rapids.
The hurricane-force winds ripped the roofs off of some structures, adding to the debris strewn across town.
The wind gusts were so strong and widespread across Iowa that cornfields were flattened. The damage was so far-reaching that it was able to be seen on satellite on Tuesday.
Satellite images of Iowa on July 28 and Aug. 11. The fields damaged by the derecho on Aug. 10 can be seen north of Des Moines, Iowa. (NASA Worldview)
Marshalltown, Iowa, was one of the hardest-hit towns with Mayor Joel Greer declaring a civil emergency after the derecho passed, The Associated Press said. Several injuries have been reported in the area, but there have been no fatalities.
After racing across Iowa, the storms swept across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, arriving in Chicago by 4 p.m. CDT Monday. Several tornado warnings were issued in the Chicago area, and videos were posted of a brief tornado near Rogers Park. The NWS later confirmed the tornado eventually moved over Lake Michigan, making it a waterspout.
Ahead of its arrival, the National Weather Service (NWS) warned residents around the Windy City that it was "an extremely dangerous situation with tornado-like wind speeds expected."
A peak wind gust of 112 mph was recorded in Midway, Iowa, which would qualify as an EF2 tornado or a Category 3 hurricane.
A 72-mph wind gust was observed at Chicago's Midway Airport and a 62-mph gust was reported at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport as the line of storms moved through.
Derechos are sometimes called "inland hurricanes" due to the extensive damage that they can cause and how they appear on radar images.
By definition, a derecho is a long-lived complex of intense thunderstorms that travels at least 250 miles. Additionally, wind gusts along its path must exceed 58 mph with at least several reports of gusts over 75 mph, according to the Storm Prediction Center (SPC).
The derecho swept across a 770-mile corridor of the Midwest in only 14 hours on Monday, Aug. 10, 2020. (AccuWeather)
In some cases, derechos can be more damaging than tornadoes as the winds from derechos can last for an extended period of time.
In 2012, a particularly strong derecho traveled 800 miles from the Midwest to the coast of the mid-Atlantic, causing $3 billion in damage and leaving some in the dark for days during the peak of summer heat.
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