Destructive derecho sweeps across Midwest, leaving widespread damage and over 1.2 million people without power

midwest derecho 1710z june 29 2023 f

An intense derecho ripped across the Midwest on Thursday, June 29, 2023, unleashing life-threatening wind gusts of over 160 km/h (100 mph) and leaving more than 500 000 households without power across Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. This potent line of thunderstorms caused significant property damage and affected millions of Americans.

An intense line of thunderstorms, also known as a derecho and inland hurricane, barrelled across the Midwest on Thursday, June 29, 2023. The storm brought with it life-threatening wind gusts, peaking at over 160 km/h (100 mph), and left more than half a million customers or over 1.2 million people without power across Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana.

Originating from northeastern Colorado, the storm cluster ignited on Wednesday night, June 28, and made its way across southern Nebraska throughout the night. The storms intensified over southern Iowa and northern Missouri on Thursday morning before racing eastward across the day.

In a span of about eight hours, the derecho traversed hundreds of kilometers, journeying from southeast Nebraska and northeast Kansas into Indiana. This significant event impacted millions of Americans, unleashing large hail, damaging wind gusts, and at least one tornado across an 800 km (500 miles) stretch of the country.

The storm is responsible for at least two injured people from southern Indiana, where trees fell onto vehicles. Destructive winds were reported in more than half a dozen states from Nebraska through Kentucky, leading to the Storm Prediction Center receiving over 500 reports of severe weather. The majority of these reports came from Illinois, Missouri, and Indiana.

One spotter reported a gust of 145 km/h (90 mph) in Adrian, Illinois, just after 11:00 CDT (16:00 UTC) from their home weather station, while another nearby spotter in Adrian reported a full-size barn destroyed, and full-size trees blown to the east. The National Weather Service (NWS) estimated wind gust of 160 km/h (100 mph).

Due to the widespread wind damage, including fallen trees, the Springfield, Illinois, Fire Department urged residents to stay in their homes. As the storm line moved through, the Indianapolis International Airport recorded a wind gust of 112 km/h (70 mph).

The storm’s intensity was such that multiple tractor-trailers were overturned on Interstate 57 near Tuscola, Illinois, situated about 225 km (140 miles) south of Chicago. Illinois State Police were present at the scene, though reports of injuries remain uncertain.

By 17:30 CDT (22:30 UTC), power outages affected over 500 000 customers across Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. By 02:00 CDT (07:00 UTC) on June 30, nearly 200 000 customers in Indiana, 130 000 in Illinois, 22 000 in Michigan, and 18 000 in Tennessee were still without power.

For meteorologists to classify a system as a derecho, it must create a path of straight-line wind damage spanning at least 640 km (400 miles) and include wind gusts over 93 km/h (58 mph) along most of its route, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center.

Meteorologist Andrew Pritchard noted that the damage was widespread, though not as extensive as the infamous August 2020 Midwest derecho.


1 Derecho with 100-mph winds rips across Midwest leaving behind widespread damage – FOX Weather – June 29, 2023

2 Derecho blasts Iowa to Indiana with hurricane-force winds – AccuWeather – June 29, 2023

Featured image credit: NOAA/GOES-East, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers. Acquired at 17:10 UTC on June 29, 2023

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