More Wild Weather

A huge outbreak of severe thunderstorms hit the nation on Thursday, causing damage in fifteen states and knocking out power to over 250,000 customers. Two people were killed, one by a falling tree in Pennsylvania, and one due to a lightning strike in New York. Two possible tornadoes touched down: one in Elmira, New York and another in Brookville, PA. The severe storms covered an unusually large area, erupting along a 1,500-mile long swath of the country from Texas to Connecticut.

Was Thursday’s outbreak a derecho?
Thursday’s outbreak of severe thunderstorms was not nearly as violent as the June 29 – 30 Mid-Atlantic and Midwest derecho, since the atmosphere wasn’t as unstable. The June 29 storm was one of the most destructive and deadly severe thunderstorm complexes in North American history. It killed 22 people, knocked out power to at least 3.7 million customers, and did hundreds of millions in damage. There were 871 reports of damaging winds logged by the next day, and 36 of the thunderstorms had wind gusts in excess of hurricane force–74 mph. In contrast, yesterday’s event had only two thunderstorms with wind gusts in excess of 74 mph, and 383 reports of damaging winds. We can probably classify yesterday’s severe thunderstorm event as a weak derecho, since it met the main criteria, as defined byNOAA’s Storm Prediction Center: “A derecho is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms.

Jeff Masters: Wunderblog

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