25 Years Ago Today: Iowa Learns Firsthand About a Derecho
Derecho is a word that, unfortunately, Iowans have learned to pronounce over the last couple of years. However, when the state was struck by one a few decades ago, most of us had never even heard the term.
Admittedly, I should say most of us weren't really familiar with the word derecho until Iowa was pulverized by the storm on August 10, 2020. I never even have to look up that date when thinking about that horrible storm. It's simply ingrained into my brain forever.
The first derecho that many of us in Iowa remember happened 25 years ago today. On June 29, 1998, a derecho developed in eastern Nebraska, and made its way across all of Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana, before finally dissipating in Kentucky and southern Ohio. I think most of us in Iowa just referred to the storm then as severe straight-line winds.
The "+" signs in the image below show all the areas that experience wind damage or gusts above 58 miles per hour in that storm. The green dots indicate severe hail and red lines or red spots are for tornadoes from the storm.
My hometown of Sigourney in southeast Iowa was hit hard. Pictures from the Sigourney News-Review can be seen here. That Iowa city was far from the only one impacted. The National Weather Service says Polk County suffered approximately $100 million in damage with winds that reached between 110 and 155 miles per hour. Thankfully, the state suffered no fatalities.
The radar loop below shows what the radar loop looked like that day in 1998 as the derecho made its way out of Iowa.
Meteorologist Kaj O'Mara at our weather partner, KCRG TV-9, reminds us that another derecho happened on June 29, 2012. That one actually started in eastern Iowa and did damage until it reached the Atlantic Ocean. Crazy.
Even though derecho was first used to describe an Iowa storm way back in 1878, Iowans have become all too familiar with its meaning, and what it can do, in recent years. Here's hoping that none of us have to use that word to describe a storm that impacts our area again anytime soon.