SEATTLE — Strong winds knocked out power to thousands of people throughout western Washington on Tuesday. “It takes so long to regain that tree cover,” said Hannigan in an interview. Packing gusts as high as 91 mph near Fort Wayne, Ind., and 79 mph at Reston, Va., the derecho and related severe weather inflicted $3.3 billion in damage (in 2020 dollars) and led to at least 42 direct and indirect deaths, with power knocked out to more than 4 million customers. Severe thunderstorm and tornado watches and warnings, radar, and satellite loops for Washington State Department, WA Washington State Department, WA 98504 Severe Thunderstorm … This phenomenon was analyzed in a 2019 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Along with the wind itself, crops were thrashed by small hail — pea to penny size — that was propelled “like machine-gun fire,” Glisan said. Hundreds of other homes were damaged. Forecasters say last week’s deadly storm complex in New England was a derecho. The term languished until it was revived in the 1980s by Robert Johns, now retired from the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center. The first to gain widespread public attention by that label tore from Illinois to the Mid-Atlantic on June 29, 2012. Including the derecho, the U.S. has been hit by a record-tying 16 billion-dollar weather disasters this year through September. One common definition specifies that it must produce “continuous or intermittent” damage along a path at least 60 miles wide and 400 miles long, with frequent gusts of at least 58 mph and several well-separated gusts of at least 75 mph. Aon released an initial damage estimate of $5 billion for the derecho, not yet including agricultural impacts.
“One could make a strong case that this is the most destructive individual thunderstorm cluster on record in terms of damage cost,” said Steve Bowen, head of catastrophe insight at the insurance broker Aon, in an email. The Aug. 10 event more than qualified. Iowa state climatologist Justin Glisan highlighted the scope of agricultural impacts in a September webinar. The exception is Hurricane Laura, which struck Louisiana in late August and caused an estimated $14 billion in damage. In an October update to its database of billion-dollar weather disasters, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated damages from the August derecho, which raced from Iowa to Indiana, at $7.5 billion. Several derechos strike the United States in a typical year. The high cost of this year’s Midwest derecho is in line with a trend toward the highest-end global weather disasters becoming even more costly at a disproportionate pace, especially in midlatitudes. Thunderstorms are the most dangerous weather scenario that people are likely to encounter frequently, and can either form rapidly within your local area or be carried into the Puget Sound with the prevailing winds. In Cedar Rapids alone, more than 1,000 housing units were deemed unlivable in the week after the storm, according to the Gazette. “Increases in aggregated or mean damages have been modest,” they said, “but evidence for a rightward skewing and tail fattening of the distributions is statistically significant and robust — with most pronounced increases in the largest percentiles (e.g., 95% and 99%), i.e., the catastrophic events.”.
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