From Academic Kids

A Derecho is a widespread and long-lived windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms. Derechos are usually not associated with a cold front, but a stationary front. They occur mostly in July, but can occur at anytime during the spring and summer.


Word origin

Derecho comes from a Spanish word for "direct" or "straight ahead". The word first came about in the American Meterological Journal in 1888 by Dr. Gustavus Hinrichs. In contrast, tornado comes from the Spanish word "tornar" meaning "to turn".

Derechos come from a band of thunderstorms that are bow- or spearhead-shaped, and hence are also called a bow echo or spearhead radar echo. The size of the bow may vary and the storms may die and redevelop. Winds in a derecho can be enhanced by downburst clusters embedded inside the storm. These straight-line winds can exceed 100 mph (160 km/h) in these clusters.

Derechos form from May to August, mostly July. During this time of year, derechos are usually confined to the Ohio Valley and the upper Mississippi Valley. Late-year derechos are confined to Texas and the deep south, although a late-summer derecho struck upper New York State after midnight on September 7, 1998. Derechos have been known to occur in other parts of the world. One such event occurred on July 10, 2002 in Germany. A serial derecho killed eight people and injured 39 near Berlin.

Types of derechos

There are three types of derechos:

  • Serial Derecho - Multiple bow echoes embedded in a massive squall line typically around 250 miles (400 km) long. This type of derecho is usually associated with a very deep low. One example of the serial type is a derecho that occurred during the Great Blizzard of 1993 in Florida. Also because of embedded supercells, tornadoes can easily spin out of these types of derechos.
  • Hybrid Derecho - Has characteristics of a serial and progressive derecho. These types of derechos are associated with a deep low like serial derechos, but are relatively small in size like progressive derechos. An example is the one that moved through the central Northern Plains and the Southern Great Lakes on May 30, 1998.

According to the National Weather Service criterion, a derecho is classified as a band of storms that have winds of at least 50 knots (58 mph or 93 km/h) along the entire derecho.

Who's at risk during derechos?

Since derechos occur during warm months, people who are most at risk are those involved in outdoor activities. Campers, hikers, and motorists are most at risk because of falling trees. Most casualties in derechos come from trees falling on cars.

People who live in mobile homes are also at risk. Mobile homes are not bolted to the ground, so they can be overturned from the high winds.

When a strong derecho hits a city, power outages caused by damaged powerlines may occur. The largest city to have been hit by more than one derecho is Grand Rapids, which has been hit by two such events (once on July 7, 1991 and again on May 30, 1998).

See also

External links


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