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Derecho has little impact on Iowa’s drought conditions

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

August 13th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Even with all of the rain that fell on Iowa during Monday’s derecho, the latest report from the U-S Drought Monitor shows little change from a week ago. The report shows all or parts of 11 counties in west-central Iowa are in their second week in the D-3 category, which means extreme drought. The scale only goes up to D-4, which is exceptional drought, though none of Iowa has reached that level yet this year.

The report shows much of Iowa’s western half remains under moderate or severe drought, while much of northern and east-central Iowa is considered abnormally dry. Only a smattering of counties on the southern and eastern borders are in normal territory.

The 11 counties now shown in extreme drought are: Adair, Audubon, Boone, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Crawford, Dallas, Guthrie, Sac and Shelby.

Frustrating power outages persist, 250K Iowa homes still in the dark

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

August 13th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – A quarter of a million Iowa homes and business are still without power this (Thursday) morning. Ames residents have been warned damage is so dense and significant, power may be out for a week in some areas. Governor Kim Reynolds toured Marshalltown Wednesday afternoon and told reporters the damage she saw may be worse than the devastating tornado that hit Marshalltown two years ago. “Just from a mental perspective of trying to deal with all of that, it’s just tough,” Reynolds says. “They’re hit pretty hard again.”

The governor has gotten an aerial view of crop damage this week and she visited a grain elevator that was critically damaged. With silos and bins smashed in areas that were hit Monday, Reynolds says storage for this year’s crop will be a significant issue. “There’s no way that they’re going to be able to rebuild the bins this fall — materials, construction — I mean, just across the board it’s not going to happen,” she says.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig says farmers may have to resort to open-air storage — piling the grain on the ground.

Updated information on destructive derecho

News, Weather

August 12th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Weather experts are analyzing a wealth of data about Monday’s powerful storm that carved a destructive path across Iowa’s midsection, wiping out trees, power lines and crops. Most of us now know the term “derecho,” a fast-moving, severe wind event, but State Climatologist Justin Glisan says it’s a fairly common type of storm.

“Typically the state of Iowa will see a derecho at least once every two years,” Glisan says. “Recent notable derecho events were July 11, 2011 and June 24, 2013.” To be designated as a derecho, a storm must have a width of at least 60 miles and travel at least 400 miles. Monday’s derecho started in southern South Dakota.

“The derecho itself held together for 770 miles over 14 hours before losing strength as it entered western Ohio,” Glisan says. Dennis Todey, director of the U-S-D-A’s Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, says derechos are hard to predict. “Unfortunately, we can’t forecast these things too well in advance,” Todey says, “but once it set up and it was starting to look consistent, the Weather Service was right on top of it then and was doing warnings well ahead of it, letting people know this was a pretty nasty situation and had the potential for doing severe damage, which it did.”

More than a half-million Iowa homes and businesses lost power during the storm, easily among the worst weather disasters for the state’s electric utilities. The governor has declared 20 counties disaster areas. Todey says they had eyes on the storm early on, but no one realized how strong it would become, or how quickly it would strengthen. “It went about 700 miles, kicked up right over South Dakota,” Todey says. “It didn’t seem like there was too much there, but it hit the Missouri River and western Iowa is where it really started causing damage. Part way into Iowa is where it really cranked up. The central part of Iowa is where the worst damage started.”

Winds ranged in most areas of Iowa from 70 to 90 miles an hour, though there’s a report of peak gusts of 112 miles an hour near Cedar Rapids. That’s the nature of a derecho, he says, versus the more typical storm Iowans are used to during the summer months. “Unlike some thunderstorms which build up, rain out and then the cold air that spreads out from that shuts down the instability around a storm, this one is able to feed on itself,” Todey says. “The wind coming out ahead of it is able to lift warmer, moister air ahead of it and that keeps feeding back on that storm and maintain its strength all the way through.”

The state climatologist says derecho is a Spanish word that can be translated as direct or straight ahead. “This was a designation to get away from the rotation type winds that we need in tornadoes,” Glisan says “This term was actually coined by Dr. Gustavus Hinrichs at the University of Iowa in the late 1800s.”

Hinrichs, who started the first state weather service, is also among the researchers credited with the discovery of the atom and the Periodic Table of Elements.

‘Kicked in the teeth’: Devastation mounts from Midwest storm

News, Weather

August 12th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The impact of a powerful wind storm that tore through the Midwest on Monday is continuing to grow, as hundreds of thousands of people are experiencing power outages for a third straight day. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, residents emptied their refrigerators and freezers as their food spoiled, waited at gas stations for an hour or longer to fill up their cars and gas cans, and worked to clean up fallen trees that were everywhere.

Laurie Berdahl stands in her front yard beginning to clean up downed limbs around her home, Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Berdahl’s home suffered only minor damage but like most of the city she was without power. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette via AP)

Many roads remained impassable and businesses closed. City council member Dale Todd says “it feels like we got kicked in the teeth pretty good,” and that recovery will be slow.

Hundreds of thousands without power days after Midwest storm

News, Weather

August 12th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of residents in Iowa’s three largest cities are without power two days after a rare wind storm hit the Midwest. The storm known as a derecho devastated the state’s power grid, flattened valuable corn fields and left two people dead in Iowa and Indiana. Major parts of Iowa suffered outages Monday as straight-line winds toppled trees, snapped poles and downed power lines. The storm had winds of up to 112 mph near Cedar Rapids, as powerful as an inland hurricane, as it tore from eastern Nebraska across Iowa and parts of Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois, including Chicago and its suburbs. In Iowa, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport still had widespread outages Wednesday morning.

Storm summary of Monday’s derecho event from the Storm Prediction Center

News, Weather

August 11th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

The Severe Storms Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, today (Tuesday), issued a summary of the storms that passed through the Midwest, Monday. An intense derecho (pronounced “Deh’RAY-show”) moved from far southeast South Dakota into Ohio yesterday (8/10/20). This derecho traveled approximately 770 miles in 14 hours and produced widespread damaging wind gusts, including numerous wind gusts over 74 mph (65 kt) & several over 90 mph in central Iowa.

Two years after a tornado hit Marshalltown, Monday’s Derecho causes significant damage

News, Weather

August 11th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – The Derecho (a long-lasting, straight-line wind storm) that plowed through Iowa yesterday (Monday) caused significant damage in the Marshalltown area, a part of the state still recovering from the 2018 E-F-three tornado. A 99 mile-per-hour gust was reported at the Marshalltown Airport as the winds and rain inundated the community, damaging not only buildings and houses and trees in downtown Marshalltown, but throughout the community and beyond. But like two years ago, Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper says when it came to people, no lives were lost.

“We got through another one without any significant or minimal significant injuries,” he says. “I know that we had one person injured during the storm fairly seriously.” Two years ago, the historic Marshall County Courthouse took a direct blow from the tornado. Renovation is work has been ongoing, with workers on scaffolding to repair the courthouse exterior. County Auditor Nan Benson says all the workers made it to shelter in time.

“We were able to get all the workers off of the scaffolding around the courthouse. Surprisingly, it’s like we knew it was coming, but I don’t know if our construction folks were not paying attention to the weather, but luckily everyone was off the scaffolding, so there were no injuries there. There was pieces of scaffolding flying around during the storm.” Marshalltown Aviation General Manager Steve Valbrecht says damage was minimal at the airport, despite that 99 mile an hour wind gust.

“We did have some damage to the buildings out here, as you can expect (with) metal buildings — roofing and collapsed hangar doors,” he says. “And one hangar door that actually left the hangar. There wasn’t any damage to any airplanes that we can find yet.” As of Monday night, the promise of power returning to Marshalltown, as well as Ames and other central Iowa communities was not known, but for some areas it could be days.

State Climatologist’s house hit by tree, gas line ruptured in Monday’s storm

News, Weather

August 11th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) — State Climatologist Justin Glisan is among those dealing with damage from Monday’s severe weather. Glisan and his wife were working from home when the storm rolled through the Beaverdale neighborhood in Des Moines.  “We call it a Derecho. It’s literally a wall of wind,” Glisan says. “This is the most frightened I’ve been in my life.” The wind blew a neighbor’s huge maple tree into Glisan’s house, sheared off the gas main and pushed into the foundation.

“We had a gas leak downstairs, so we had to leave,” Glisan says, “get out of the house with our dog, George, and get into a car and we drove to a parking lot that was free of large trees and just had to wait it out because we didn’t have anywhere else to go.” The first storm warnings were issued yesterday (Monday) morning for western Iowa, with wind speeds reported between 60 and 70 miles an hour. The winds picked up speed as they moved through the state, with a 99 mile per hour gust recorded in the Marshalltown area.

“Once you get a squall line like this to stay together, it just perpetuates itself,” Glisan says, “and that’s what happened.” Glisan says yesterday’s (Monday’s) storm is a reminder to heed National Weather Service warnings. “These events can get severe really fast and it can impact life and property, as we’ve seen across much of Iowa,” Glisan says.

Many communities in the path of the storm asked residents to stay home, as crews removed storm debris and power lines from streets and roads. By mid-afternoon Monday, more than 420-thousand Iowa homes and businesses had lost power according to the National Weather Service.

Powerful derecho leaves path of devastation across Midwest

News, Weather

August 10th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A rare wind storm with power similar to an inland hurricane swept across the Midwest, blowing over trees, flipping vehicles, causing widespread property damage and leaving tens of thousands of homes without power. The storm known as a derecho lasted several hours as it tore across eastern Nebraska, Iowa and parts of Wisconsin and Illinois.

Pieces of the Buccaneer Arena roof litter the parking lot after a strong thunderstorm with high winds blew through the Des Moines metro on Monday, Aug. 10. 2020, in Urbandale, Iowa. (Kelsey Kremer/The Des Moines Register via AP)

A scientist at the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center says the storm had the wind speed of a major hurricane, and likely caused more widespread damage than a normal tornado. Officials in the Iowa cities of Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Marshalltown say the damage is extensive.

Some storm damage pictures from Atlantic Monday morning

News, Weather

August 10th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

Winds gusting anywhere from 50-to 75 mph thundered through western and west central Iowa this morning, including here in Cass County. Numerous tree limbs, small and large were snapped and littered the downtown corridor in Atlantic, as well as many side streets and intersections. Cass County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Kennon said the story was pretty much the same in Marne. As of 10:45-a.m., there was no report of injuries or significant property damage in the County.

A tree limb fell on a house near Adel at around 10:30-a.m.  A large tree limb fell on a car in Denison. A semi jackknifed in the Crawford County community of Kiron. Significant tree damage was reported in Guthrie Center, Carroll, Templeton and many other locations as well.  Some sites reported pea size hail. Power outages were common, as crews struggled to reconnect downed lines in the area. (Ric Hanson/photos)