KEY POINTS

  • The derecho storms persisted for around 14 hours Monday in the Midwest, with the most severe weather reported from Iowa to Indiana
  • A tornado was reported in Chicago before moving out onto Lake Michigan, becoming a waterspout in the process
  • Over a million customers across the region remained without power on Tuesday

Over a million customers were without power Tuesday after an intense derecho ripped through the U.S. Midwest on Monday, causing widespread damage from central Iowa to Indiana.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the storm persisted for 14 hours on Monday, traveling around 770 miles before it dissipated.

The National Weather Service defines a derecho as “a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. Although a derecho can produce destruction similar to the strength of tornadoes, the damage typically is directed in one direction along a relatively straight swath.”

Wind gusts in Iowa reportedly averaged over 70 mph, though some areas reported gusts over 100 mph.

“It was crazy,” Perry, Iowa, resident Jennifer Pickering told CNN. Pickering said she was staying at her brother’s home when the derecho hit their area. “There was so much pressure in the room with the window broken, we couldn't get the door open at times to try and get the dog out,” Pickering said. “I honestly thought at times we were gonna die.”

Chicago suffered some of the worst damage as it was hammered by severe storms and dangerous winds for most of Monday afternoon. Heavy rain and hail made travel difficult while winds averaging over 50 mph knocked down multiple trees and power lines across the city. It culminated in a reported tornado touching down in the city’s Far North Side that moved out into Lake Michigan, becoming a waterspout once it hit the lake.

Commonwealth Edison said around 424,000 customers were without power Tuesday.

The damage seen in Chicago was just one example of the total damage caused by the derecho. Several Iowa residents reported winds causing indoor boards to be ripped up and tossed around their homes, with many narrowly avoiding the boards. 

This situation appeared to be a rinse-and-repeat situation for Indiana, with over 18,000 customers across the state still without power Tuesday. Indianapolis reportedly suffered the worst damage from the storms and wind gusts that hit around 7:30 p.m. Monday. The front is forecast to continue pushing through Indiana, but has weakened significantly since Monday.

“Everything was in phase yesterday. The winds, the moisture, the heat and the front,” Mike Koch, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Indianapolis branch, told the IndyStar. “The front will be moving through (Indiana) today but the atmosphere is not as charged.”

Derecho Storm The CIA is funding a study looking at ways that could control the weather and reverse global warming. Photo: Reuters