A rare storm with 100 km / h orchid-like winds left more than a million people without power on Monday when devastation erupted over large parts of the Midwest – hitting Chicago as it recovered from a night of chaos and widespread looting.
Derecho – which has the strength of a hurricane but hovers over a much wider area – flattened home and tipped over vehicles as it spent several hours leaving a trail of damage from eastern Nebraska across Iowa and parts of Wisconsin and Illinois.
On Monday night, PowerOutage.us reported more than 1.1 million people without power due to the storm – with more than 570,000 in Illinois.
“It went up pretty quickly,”
“I do not think anyone expected winds extending to approach 100, 110 mph,” he said.
A derecho often causes more damage than even a tornado because it can float in one place and its high winds can hit a much larger area, Marsh said.
Winds of 100 km / h can stretch for “20, 30, 40 or God forbid, 100 miles,” he said.
What happened Monday morning was the result of unstable, very humid air that parked for several days over the northern plains – which culminated in a derecho.
“They are basically self-sustaining amoebas of thunderstorms,” Gensini said. “Once they start like they did over Iowa, it’s really hard to stop these amps.”
He compared it to a devastating 2009 Super Derecho, which was one of the strongest on the record and traveled more than 1,000 miles in 24 hours, causing $ 500 million in damage, widespread power outages and killing a handful of people.
“This is our version of a hurricane,” said Northern Illinois University meteorology professor Victor Gensini, who said it was one of the strongest in recent history and predicted it would prove to be one of the country’s worst weather events of 2020.
As Chicago recovered from its depressing night of looting, residents were warned of winds of 80 to 90 km / h by the National Weather Service.
“This is an extremely dangerous line of storms. . . . Stay away from windows and head immediately indoors if you walk near high-rise buildings, “the service warned.
“Make preparations NOW, do not wait for the storms to come.”
The city experienced the most severe winds around 4pm with a 72 mph gust of wind recorded at Midway Airport.
The National Weather Service tweeted that “large parts of northern Illinois have pockets of damage with fallen trees, debris and power lines blocking roads” after the worst had passed.
After flashing Chicago, the storm moved east, and a severe thunderstorm covered much of southwestern Michigan and northern Indiana until midnight.
A flood warning was issued for Lake Michigan over fears that the derecho would generate big waves and push water ashore.
Several people were injured and extensive property damage was reported in Marshall County in central Iowa after 100 mph winds swept through the area, said its homeland security coordinator Kim Elder.
Elders said winds blew over trees, tipped cars, dropped power lines, ripped up road signs and tore roofs off buildings, some of which caught fire.
“We had quite a few people trapped in buildings and cars,” the elder said, adding that the extent of the damage was unknown and no deaths had been reported. “We are in a life-saving situation right now.”
Marshalltown Mayor Joel Greer declared a civil emergency and told residents to stay home and off the streets so the first responders could answer calls.
Roof damage to houses and buildings was reported in several cities in Iowa, including the roof of a hockey arena in Des Moines.
Photos showed semitrailers tipping over or blown off highways.
MidAmerican Energy Company spokeswoman Tina Hoffman said fallen trees made it difficult for some workers to access power lines. In some cases, the power lines were plugged.
“There is a lot of tree damage. Very high winds. It will be a significant effort to get through everything and get everyone back, says Hoffman. “It was a big front that went all the way through the state.”
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, had “both significant and widespread damage throughout the city,” said Public Safety spokesman Greg Buelow. Tens of thousands of people in the metro area were without power.
“We have damage to homes and businesses, including siding and roof damage,” he said. “Trees and power lines are down all over the city.”
Cedar Rapids on Monday night issued a curfew at 10pm which will continue indefinitely as crews worked to clear up fallen debris.
The power outage was particularly alarming given the high heat in the region.
With people with medical conditions – elevated by the coronavirus pandemic – “it gets pretty fast,” Marsh said.
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