A rare storm packing 100 mph winds has left more than 1.1million Americans without power across the Midwest as it caused widespread destruction with blown over trees, flipped vehicles, property damage and several severe weather warnings as it turned toward embattled Chicago.
The derecho, a widespread weather system with a long line of storms packing high winds, descended upon the Central U.S. on Monday with wind speeds comparable to a major hurricane as it spent several hours tearing through parts of Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
The storm likely caused more widespread damage than a normal tornado, said Patrick Marsh, science support chief at the National Weather Service´s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
It´s not quite a hurricane. It has no eye and its winds come across in a line. But the damage it is likely to spread over such a large area is more like an inland hurricane than a quick more powerful tornado, Marsh said.
He compared it to a devastating Super Derecho of 2009, which was one of the strongest on record and traveled more than 1,000 miles in 24 hours, causing $500 million in damage, widespread power outages and several deaths.
The weather service´s Marsh said there´s a huge concern about power outages that will be widespread across several states and long lasting. Add high heat, people with medical conditions that require power and the pandemic, ‘it becomes dire pretty quickly.’
In Iowa, roadways were littered with downed power lines as semi-trailer trucks were blown over and entire grain elevators demolished in the agriculture-heavy state.
Wind speeds in Nebraska topped 70 mph as massive trees crashed into residential homes.
Special Marine Warnings were issued in Wisconsin as the potential for water spouts was discovered in Lake Michigan.
The National Weather Service has issued a vast number of severe weather warnings throughout Monday to a number of cities.
From 6 to 7pm, the agency released more than 20 of such warnings in at least four states, including Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, Indiana and Michigan.
PowerOutage.us reports that more than 1,130,505 Americans are without power due to the powerful derecho as of Monday at 7pm.
Illinois has the highest number of customers without power at 570,756, while Iowa followed closely behind with 491,260.
‘This is our version of a hurricane,’ Northern Illinois University meteorology professor Victor Gensini said in an interview from his home about 15 minutes before the storm was about to hit.
Minutes later he headed to his basement for safety as the storm took aim at Chicago, starting with its suburbs.
Gensini said this derecho will go down as one of the strongest in recent history and be one of the nation’s worst weather events of 2020.
‘They are basically self-sustaining amoebas of thunderstorms,’ Gensini said. ‘Once they get going like they did across Iowa, it’s really hard to stop these suckers.’
‘It ramped up pretty quick’ around 7 a.m. Central time in Eastern Nebraska. I don’t think anybody expected widespread winds approaching 100, 110 mph,’ Patrick Ma….