Destructive Derecho Tears Through Midwest, Hitting Chicago

Photo: The Weather Channel

A week after Hurricane Isaias caused over 3 million power outages and killed over a dozen Americans along the East Coast, a derecho in the Midwest caused widespread damage Monday as it headed toward Chicago.

Meaning “straight” in Spanish, derecho indicates a long-lasting windstorm caused by severe thunderstorms, resulting in damage similar to that of a tornado except that it occurs in a straight line. The one that formed in eastern Nebraska on Monday had winds of over 100 miles per hour and placed over 13 million people in the path of potential risk, according to the Storm Prediction Center, which is part of the National Weather Service. The “particularly dangerous situation,” or PDS, as the SPC refers to it, is headed toward a region of northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, northern Indiana, and southwestern Michigan, where a PDS thunderstorm watch was in effect until 7 p.m. local time. According to a forecast from the Weather Channel, it is “very likely” that Chicago will experience severe weather this evening.

“PDS severe-thunderstorm watches are rare and reserved for only the strongest thunderstorm events,” CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said on the network on Monday. “Wind gusts are expected to reach up [to] 100 miles per hour, with the line of thunderstorms as rolls across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.” Hail a little smaller than a golf ball was also possible within the storm’s path.

Damage reported in Iowa shows the scale of the storm in its early hours:

As of Monday afternoon, 430,000 people experienced power outages in eastern Nebraska, Iowa, and northern Illinois. The NWS office in Chicago warned residents to treat the storm warning “like a tornado warning,” encouraging those experiencing severe weather to “head for safe shelter indoors, well away from windows.” A tornado warning was also issued for the city until 4:30 p.m. CT. Chicago is already experiencing a moment of unrest: On Sunday, over 100 residents were arrested in a night of looting following the police shooting of a 20-year-old man on the city’s South Side earlier in the day. Late on Monday afternoon, high winds caused damage in the city:

This post has been updated.

Destructive Derecho Tears Through Midwest Toward Chicago