The Mid-Atlantic States are gearing up for a repeat of last year’s derecho; only it won’t be as strong as the previous year’s event.
According to the AP and CBS News, a long line of strong thunderstorms is slated to begin Wednesday afternoon and could affect 1 in 5 Americans, from the Midwest to Maryland. These storms can produce hail, lightning and potentially damaging winds of at least 58 mph.
Unlike a tornado that is more localized and smaller, a derecho is a huge storm consisting of straight line winds covering as much as 240 miles or more. These storms have the ability to produce tornadoes and are usually followed by high, oppressive heat says Bill Bunting, operations chief at the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
Cities affected by the approaching storms are Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus which have a 45 times higher risk of experiencing severe weather during this event. Other cities-Detroit, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Washington and Louisville-all have a risk level 15 times higher than the normal for this time of year.
Last year’s event caused at least 1 billion in damage from Chicago to DC, killed 13 people and left over 4 million folks without power. Reported winds reached 100mph and an additional 34 people died from the ensuing heat wave that followed the severe weather.
While the storms are not expected to cross the Appalachian Mountains, the risk nevertheless continues for Philadelphia and other Mid-Atlantic areas into Thursday, and even increases a bit.
Delaware Valley gardeners should evaluate their property for anything that could take flight during high winds, i.e. flower pots and containers, lawn furniture and equipment. Inspect trees and evaluate them for issues that will follow the event, i.e. dangerous, damaged hanging limbs, erosion. Make sure all drains on or around the property are clean and cleared before the event begins. Have emergency numbers on hand along with batteries and a flashlight in case of a power outage.
Bill Bunting, NWS, says that the storms will move so fast that “by the time you see the dark sky and distant thunder you may have only minutes to get to safe shelter.”
Sources: CBS News, Associated Press
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