By Michael Austin for Western Journal
A powerful storm tore through the Midwest on Monday, leaving devastation in its wake.
One meteorologist told The Washington Post that Illinois and Iowa alone could have $1 billion worth of damage to crops, homes, businesses, vehicles and infrastructure.
During a Tuesday news conference, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said the storm leveled 10 million acres of Iowa crops, damaging or destroying nearly a third of the state’s 32 million acres of corn, soybeans and other crops, according to the Des Moines Register.
William Gallus, a professor of atmospheric science at Iowa State University, spoke with The Western Journal about the storm, which was classified as a derecho.
Most Americans are unfamiliar with the term, so Gallus began by defining it.
“A derecho is an intense thunderstorm system that produces a large path of wind damage. To get that name, it has to produce winds of at least 58 mph (severe) for over 400 km (240 miles). It also normally results in at least a few winds reaching hurricane force (75 mph),” he said.
“So unlike many weather features that are named based on how they look at radar, you don’t know that something is a derecho until after it has happened and you can see the damage that was done, and get an idea on how big an area had winds that strong.”
What made this derecho unique, according to Gallus, was that its size and intensity.
“This derecho happened in conditions pretty normal for getting derechos, but it was unique in that it was extremely intense and extremely big. It was like a derecho on steroids. It lasted for 14 hours and covered 800 miles,” he said.
“It had a huge area of winds over 75 mph, and many reports above 100 mph. Thus it is probably at or near the top of the chart for impacting the biggest area with truly extreme winds. Hurricanes are the only other weather feature that can do that.”
There will be plenty of lasting effects from this storm, according to Gallus — many negative, but a few positive effects as well.
“On the negative side, the tree canopies of many Iowa cities will be changed for decades, with much less shade and beauty. Some farmers may go bankrupt. On the positive side, maybe some cities will move powerlines underground to reduce damage. Maybe trees will be planted in places away from power lines,” Gallus told The Western Journal.
“People will now know what a derecho is, and probably take some severe thunderstorm warnings more seriously, particularly when they are worded to mention ‘extremely damaging winds’ or say the winds could be over 70 or 80 mph. I think most people did in this event, otherwise it is hard to explain why there were not more injuries or even deaths.”