File this one away in your database of Things I Need to Worry About: “Super Derecho.” That’s the official term for the land hurricane that swept 700 miles from Indiana to the East Coast last Friday and killed 13 people.
File this one away in your database of Things I Need to Worry About: “Super Derecho.”
That’s the official term for the land hurricane that swept 700 miles from Indiana to the East Coast last Friday and killed 13 people.
The huge storm, rivaling an F-1 hurricane, came as a surprise. It’s as if meteorologists could not imagine such a growling menace of energy lasting 12 hours and tearing up a quarter of the country.
That scorching June 29 afternoon, the federal Storm Prediction Center issued warnings for severe thunderstorms, but their computer models predicted the line would move southward into Kentucky and Tennessee. That was wrong. It took a straight dash (85-104 mph) eastward across southern Ohio and West Virginia, causing states of emergencies in its wake.
When the storm took this track, forecasters believed the Allegheny Mountains would exhaust it as they do with many summer storms. Not so.
The super derecho cleared the mountains and got even stronger in the heat with winds approaching 100 mph. It steamrollered its way to the mid-Atlantic Coast, blasting major population centers, cutting power to 3.7 million and damaging property.
Temperatures were in the 90s to low 100s throughout the path. That continually recharged the storm.
We lucked out in Northern Ohio. The derecho brushed us. Tuscarawas and counties to the south took a bigger dose. Forty-five Ohio counties required emergency aid, but West Virginia suffered the full brunt.
When the path became apparent, the National Weather Service at 6:35 p.m. Friday issued storm watches for the Washington-Baltimore megalopolis. The storm was sucking very hot, extremely humid air off the Chesapeake Bay, and that added to its final blast.
At 10:10 p.m., the Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for metro Washington. Not much time to take action. Ten minutes later, the winds struck.
Will it happen again? We’ve had additional severe storms since the big one. Despite the heat, they did not develop into hurricane-force derechos, although they did cause additional damage and power outages.
Meanwhile, the heat continues, and forecasters are examining their data, trying to figure out what happened and how to predict it.
Normally, the huge storm front would have pulled cool air upon us from Canada. That didn’t happen. The scorching temperatures continued for a week.
Will we reach critical mass once again? That’s anybody’s guess right now, as our weather continues to amaze even the experts.
Here’s one for your vocabulary: Derecho or “drecho” is Spanish for straight. It describes long-lived, straight-line windstorms that frequently reach hurricane force. They start suddenly and often without warning.
They most often happen in Texas and the deep South. A derecho in May 2009 spawned 45 tornadoes. Last Friday’s produced only one unconfirmed tornado report, in Newcomerstown.