This is the kind of event that we hope comes once in a generation. A powerful derecho (long duration straight line wind event) roared from Des Moines to Ontario, Canada this morning. Along that path here in Iowa, winds that at times topped 130mph. That’s equivalent to an EF-2 tornado. I want to be clear, there were NO tornadoes in Iowa this morning. All of this damage was caused by wind gusts.
Above is an archived radar look from Iowa Mesonet showing this morning’s derecho as it took shape over Des Moines and raced to the east.
The storms pushed into Iowa early Monday morning and rapidly intensified as they passed over the Des Moines area. One of the first victims was WHO-TV, the broadcaster’s radar was destroyed by the storm.
Some of the hardest hit areas were in Marshall, Tama and Benton Counties, where winds at times topped the 130mph mark. Some of the hardest hit areas include Vinton, Garrison, Traer and Dysart. The town of Garrison was hit especially hard. The National Weather Service reports many roofs partially or fully ripped from structures, some buildings even had collapsed walls. And nearly every tree in the community was significantly damaged or destroyed.
The damage is widespread and the impact will be felt for some time. Some areas are being told it could take days, perhaps a week or more to restore power to their homes and businesses. The cleanup will take much longer than that. Not only trees and power lines, but homes and other structures were damaged or destroyed.
In the U.S. alone, the derecho traveled from Des Moines to Detroit, 550 miles in 9 hours. That’s an average speed of the storms of 61mph. This is one of the most powerful derechos recorded since a similar event struck parts of Iowa in 1998. Much like this one, the damage was widespread and extensive.
As we’ve said before, these storms serve a lesson that it’s not just tornadoes that can devastate a home and community. The best news out of this situation is that although many were sleeping when the storm hit and were caught off guard, no one was injured or killed. That aside, damage in Iowa alone will easily reach the tens of millions of dollars. We’ll continue to follow the aftermath of this storm as we keep an eye on the threat of additional storms in the days ahead.