On June 29, 2012, a violent storm called a derecho raced across West Virginia, leaving downed trees and damaged homes in its wake. A derecho (pronounced “deh-REY-cho”) is a widespread wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving storms. An American scientist first used the Spanish term in 1888 to describe this kind of weather event, but most West Virginians were unfamiliar with it until the 2012 derecho came and went.
The storm formed in Illinois about 11 a.m., then traveled east. It reached West Virginia at about 6 p.m. and moved across the state at about 70 miles per hour. The storm brought some rain, but it was the wind that proved the most damaging. Wind speeds reached 78 miles per hour in Charleston, 66 miles per hour in Clarksburg, and 68 miles per hour in Beckley.
The storm did widespread damage in the state. The strong winds blew down trees, which took power lines with them. About 688,000 homes and businesses lost electricity in the derecho, and a series of storms in the following week knocked out power to additional residents. It took more than a week to restore power to many residents. Some residents lost water, cable, and Internet service, as well. The storm came at a time when the state was experiencing a heat wave, with temperatures over 100 degrees on some days. Health officials in West Virginia attributed the deaths of three people to the storm.
The last time a derecho had been recorded in West Virginia was 1991.
Last Revised on August 03, 2012