In August of 2020, a powerful “inland hurricane” wreaked havoc across the Midwest. On Wednesday night, similarly rapid winds swept across the state of Iowa, causing damage and knocking out power 0f roughly 500,000 households.
During 2020’s storm, buildings were destroyed, large grain bins were toppled, massive power outages swept over hundreds of thousands of houses, approximately seven million trees were uprooted and roughly $500 million worth of crops was flattened.
In total, the storm — classified as a “derecho” — caused roughly $11 billion worth of damage throughout Midwestern states such as Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan, according to NPR.
According to William Gallus, a professor of atmospheric science at Iowa State University who spoke with The Western Journal last year regarding the 2020 storm, to be classified as a “derecho,” a storm must “produce winds of at least 58 mph (severe) for over 400 km (240 miles).”
“It also normally results in at least a few winds reaching hurricane force (75 mph),” Gallus told The Western Journal.
While the new winds that hit Iowa Wednesday caused some serious damage, they were not quite as severe as those faced during last August’s derecho.
According to the Des Moines Register, the 2020 derecho brought with it winds of up to 130 mph. According to Axios, Wednesday’s winds reached somewhere from 85 to 100 mph — which would mean Wednesday’s storm, in fact, reached the “hurricane force” Gallus told The Western Journal about.
Furthermore, WXOW-TV confirmed that the storm on Wednesday was classified as another derecho.
“People should avoid being outside in forested areas and around trees and branches,” a warning from the national weather service said in regards to Wednesday’s winds.
“If possible, remain in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows. Use caution if you must drive.”
Although reports have yet to come out about the total amount of damage done, Axios reported that upwards of 500,000 customers in 10 different states suffered power outages on Thursday thanks to the derecho.
Additionally, The New York Times reported that “destruction appeared light despite high wind gusts and dire warnings.”
Given the devastation that followed last year’s windstorm, many Iowa residents were predictably anxious over what might possibly transpire on Wednesday night.
— Bradley Bing (@Yeah_Brad_B) August 10, 2020
Derecho: An inland hurricane. Never heard of it before Monday & will never forget it. In CR winds exceeded 110 mph, causing significant damage. Thankful for safety & my family who helped clean.
Thinking of the hundreds of thousands affected across the WHOLE STATE.#IowaStrong 💛 pic.twitter.com/a9wyiNQm5o
— Kayla Waskow (@KaylaWaskow) August 14, 2020
PC conversations with farmers after #derecho:
“Are you doing okay?”
“Yeah, this just really stinks.” pic.twitter.com/bicdM1FpKY
— Meaghan Anderson (@mjanders1) August 13, 2020
According to Gallus’s comments from August of 2020, the effects of 2020’s derecho will be felt “for decades.”
“On the negative side, the tree canopies of many Iowa cities will be changed for decades, with much less shade and beauty. Some farmers may go bankrupt. On the positive side, maybe some cities will move powerlines underground to reduce damage. Maybe trees will be planted in places away from power lines,” Gallus told The Western Journal.
“People will now know what a derecho is, and probably take some severe thunderstorm warnings more seriously, particularly when they are worded to mention ‘extremely damaging winds’ or say the winds could be over 70 or 80 mph. I think most people did in this event, otherwise it is hard to explain why there were not more injuries or even deaths.”
Outlets were unable to report if Wednesday’s derecho was, in fact, a derecho until after the fact. This is because, according to Gallus, derechos are unique in that they cannot be classified until after they transpire.
“Unlike many weather features that are named based on how they look at radar, you don’t know that something is a derecho until after it has happened and you can see the damage that was done, and get an idea on how big an area had winds that strong,” Gallus told The Western Journal.
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