The Right Turn Derecho - WNEM TV 5

The Right Turn Derecho

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Photo Credit: NWS Photo Credit: NWS

Over 20 years ago a series of four Derechos raced through the Midwest with one sweeping through Mid-Michigan leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

What is a Derecho?

By definition a Derecho is a line of intense, long-lived, widespread, and fast-moving storms that move across a great distance and are characterized by damaging winds. This type of storm is associated with bands of rapidly moving thunderstorms know as bow echoes or squall lines.

Derecho is Spanish for “direct” or “straight ahead”.  A Derecho will produce destruction similar to that of a tornado, but the damage from a Derecho will only occur in one direction as straight line winds.  Wind damage must extend for more than 250 miles and include wind gusts in excess of 75 MPH for a storm to be classified as a Derecho according to NOAA.

Extremely violent and dangerous the Derecho that stuck Michigan July 13, 1995 was no expectation. The storm was one in series of four that struck the Midwest due to a heat wave.

The Right Turn Derecho

On the afternoon of July 12, 1995 thunderstorms formed in southeast Montana with damaging winds. As the storms moved east into North Dakota they took up a bow echo shape and the storm became a Derecho as it moved into Minnesota.

Photo Credit: National Weather Service

Photo Credit: National Weather Serivce

That Derecho worked its way through northern Wisconsin and into the Upper Peninsula in the early morning hour of July 13, 1995.

Photo Credit: National Weather Service

By the early afternoon the Derecho turned south-southeast and plowed into Lower Michigan. The storms continued moving off into Ohio before finally ending as it reached the Ohio River at Midnight July 14th.

The destruction

The storm traveled over 1,400 miles over 27 hours with an average speed of 52 MPH. Of the storms life span it spent close to 24 hours in Michigan moving from the UP through Lower Michigan.

A record number of trees were damaged due to this storm. An extreme 100,000 trees fell in Roscommon County alone. With more than a million trees estimated to be damaged in the Upper Peninsula.

 An estimated 100 miles of power lines were torn down by the storm in Lower Michigan. Nearly 400,000 people reported losing power. Several injuries were reported and sadly two fatalities occurred in northern Michigan.

Widespread wind damage occurred along the entire path of the storm with wind gusts estimated between 85-100 MPH.

Photo Credit: NOAA

Photo Credit: NOAA

Do you remember the storm?

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