The extreme weather phenomena started in central Nebraska in the predawn hours on Friday and traveled all the way to Charleston by Saturday morning.
Shelf clouds were seen along the line of storms. Major US cities, such as Kansas City and St. Louis, got a taste of strong winds and heavy rain from these apocalyptic-looking clouds.
The term “derecho” is Spanish for the word straight. It was first defined by physicist Dr. Gustavus Hinrichs in his paper in the American Meteorological Journal in 1888.
The National Weather Service defines derechos as “widespread, long-lived wind storms associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms.”
Hurricane force winds and flash flooding are typical of derechos.
More than 14 states felt the impact of the storm.
Three people were killed Friday as a result of winds toppling trees onto vehicles and a boat, according to authorities.
The Kansas City Fire Department responded to a water rescue early Friday morning as streets in downtown flooded from the storms, CNN affiliate KMBC reported.
The National Weather Service in St. Louis tweeted that one of its radar sites was struck by lightning as the storms approached, resulting in a 30 minute outage.
In Nashville, Tennessee, the storms toppled tents in downtown that were set up for Pride festival events this weekend, according to images posted on social media.
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