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Speed of Severe Storms Contributed to Widespread Destruction

John Peters
used with permission
A damaged tree on the campus of Augustana College, Rock Island, IL

"It doesn't take a tornado for a storm to result in devastating damage."

Michelle O'Neill reports that's what a local forecaster says after Monday's derecho.

Credit https://tinyurl.com/y4ew7x2l / NOAA
The NOAA-20 satellite captured imagery of the storms as they were developing.

Meteorologist Brian Pierce, from the Quad Cities National Weather Service, says on Monday morning, a weather system in Nebraska and southern South Dakota accelerated and raced across Iowa, Illinois, and eventually Indiana.

He says the jet stream supported the storms, and they got worse as the system hit very warm, unstable, and moist air.

At one point, the weather service measured the speed of the storms at 70 mph.

Pierce says the speed combined with strong down drafts from within the system to produce very high winds. 

This derecho is similar to the one that hit the Quad Cities twelve years ago.

Pierce says it was just after sunrise on July 11th, 2008. It's highest wind gust was measured at 94 mph at the Quad City Airport compared to Monday's at 79 mph.

Quad Cities residents may remember many trees were completely uprooted because the ground was saturated from spring flooding.

Pierce and his coworkers at the National Weather Service in Davenport have been working to recover data from the storm. It knocked out some equipment, and the office had to operate on generator power.

Reports of injuries and a few deaths are just now being released. Two people were killed by trees, and one was electrocuted.

Credit NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory / NOAA
"NOAA’s GOES-East satellite tracked severe thunderstorms as they raced across much of the Midwest and caused a widespread, fast-moving windstorm called a derecho. According to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, the derecho traveled from far southeastern South Dakota into Ohio—a distance of about 770 miles—in a span of 14 hours."

Officially, Michelle's title is WVIK News Editor which really just means she wears many hats, doing everything there is to do in the newsroom and around the radio station. She's a multimedia journalist and serves as Assignment Editor, reporter, radio news producer, copy editor, announcer, news anchor/host, and photographer. She also writes and produces content for WVIK.org and social media and trains interns.
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