Sunday, July 8, 2012

What the heck is a "derecho"? (Part 3)

I saw this link with this amazing picture and just had to share.

Shelf cloud from the developing derecho in Chicago on June 29, 2012. Image Credit: NWS Meteorologist Samuel Shea

On June 29, 2012, a violent wind storm system – called a derecho – advanced eastward across Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and in parts of New Jersey. It produced hurricane force winds that gusted as high as 91 miles per hour in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Millions of people were left without power as trees snapped on power lines. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC), reported nearly 800 wind reports from this derecho. Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell declared a state of emergency Saturday, June 30, 2012 – which also affected Washington DC – after the storm devastated the region. In fact, McDonnell announced that the derecho that pushed into Virginia made it the largest non-hurricane power outage in state history. As of now, at least 13 people are known to have died from this destructive storm system, with six deaths reported in Virginia, two in New Jersey, two in Maryland, one in Kentucky, one in Washington D.C., and one in Ohio. As of 5 p.m. EDT on June 30, 2012 (21 UTC), at least 1.6 million people were still without power, which is bad news because residents in these areas are experiencing hot temperatures over 90°F. Check out these images and videos from this destructive and deadly derecho event.


Friday, July 6, 2012

What the heck is a "derecho"?? (Part 2)

June 30 -- We awoke to find the power still off.  Now THAT was a bit unusual.  We have lost power many times over the years we've lived here, but usually not for more than 1 to 5 hours.  We had a  cereal breakfast, some fruit, and whatever didn't need heating (all my appliances are electric!).  Then we decided to take a drive around town and see what the damage looked like.  Here's what we found:

 House about two blocks from ours with a large tree on the roof

In the Laurel Lakes Shopping Center parking lot, the model sheds on display at Lowe's Hardware were all blown over onto their backs.

 This one was blown down the small hill behind where it originally sat.

 The rest of the shed that blew over the hill.

 Another view of the parking lot mess.

And THIS one blew down the hill and across a street!!  Amazing that no one was injured by all these flying sheds.

 Across the street from the shopping center were a series of five telephone/electric poles in a row that were pulled over or broken.  A few others were heavily leaning in one direction or another. 

 The car sales lot took some damage.

 This pole landed on top of a Range Rover!

 The broken pole fell on top of an old bank building (currently vacant).

Here's the equipment that WAS on that pole!

 Various view of Cherry Lane....

 more trees down on Cherry Lane...

and even more.

 This tree fell in the parking lot of some apartments near our home; the tree narrowly missed several cars.

 This tree is located in a field in the same apartment complex.  It split off.....

narrowly missing a brand-new chain link fence that was installed around the complex's swimming pool this past spring.

This tree fell onto a fence behind a gas station.  The blue tent/tarp apparently blew in from some other location.

 Cleaning up our yard wasn't TOO bad -- here's the first set of larger limbs we drug to the curb....

....and the first trash can of small yard debris.

This is a terrible picture; I took it at dusk out of a moving car.  But if you look carefully, you can see many balcony doors open, trying to cool off these apartments, and there are also a number of people standing or sitting on the balconies.  Can you imagine how hot it would be in a 14-story building with no A/C?  

The digital indoor/outdoor thermometer I have in my upstairs showed that at 10 pm it was 86.4 degrees outside, 86.0 degrees upstairs in my home.  Needless to say, we ended up sleeping in the basement Saturday night -- much, much cooler!!


What the heck is a "derecho"?? (Part 1)

Do you know?  I didn't -- until last week.  According to Wikipedia, a derecho is " a widespread, long-lived,straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms.  Generally, derechos are convection-induced  and take on a bow echo form of squall line, forming in an area of divergence in the upper levels of the troposphere, within a region of low-level warm air advection and rich low-level moisture. They travel quickly in the direction of movement of their associated storms, similar to an outflow boundary (gust front), except that the wind is sustained and increases in strength behind the front, generally exceeding hurricane-force." I highlighted and underlined the last part as emphasis. I feel like saying -- yeah, really?? That was the understatement of the century!! 

Last Friday, June 29, a derecho blew through the DC area around 10 pm.  This was a storm that tore apart our region in less than 30 minutes, with very little warning.  We were among the fortunate -- we "only" lost power for about 54 hours.  Several of our friends didn't get power until last night, so it was a full SEVEN DAYS in this blistering heat without power. 

I'm going to chronicle, in several parts, what happened over the last few days.  It was pretty rough!  I have a new respect for the people who originally settled in this part of the country, before there was refrigeration or air conditioning.  I do not know how they survived -- seriously.

Friday, June 29 -- We were out for some dinner and a bit of late-evening shopping.  We came out of Target in Columbia, MD to see lightning off in the distance.  At first, we thought it was heat lightning, but it was frequent, intense, and getting closer by the minute.  As we drove home, we turned on the radio to hear about a "severe storm" with winds gusting over 80 mph approaching our area.  We drove home quickly, making plans about who would take trash cans in, who'd get the dogs out quickly, and so forth.  We rushed to accomplish those things, and literally within eight minutes of getting home, the storms started.  Huge, HUGE winds; some rain, but not anywhere in proportion to the amount of wind we were getting.  Lights started to flicker and at 10:45 they went out.  This is not an uncommon thing in our neighborhood, and so we always have flashlights at the ready.  We kicked on a battery-powered radio, listened to the weather reports and waited for the storm to blow through.  And really, the worst of the storm was gone in about 45 minutes -- how much damage could it possibly have done, right???  Wrong.

As we listened to the radio, we began hearing the reports of power outages from all over the area -- 60,000, 80,000, 100,000 customers without power -- and the numbers kept rising.  It became clear that we wouldn't be getting power back anytime before bed, and so we all headed off to sleep.  Can't do much else around the house without the electricity.  The house was fairly cool, the sun was already down; we figured we'd be fine until the power came on.