2012-07-07 / Front Page

Hit by a derecho

Photos by Charles Prince, Peggy Wells, & Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE – Most of us had never heard of a “derecho” much less a “super derecho.” Residents can now ‘derecho’ to our list of life experiences.

AccuWeather.com reported, “a ‘super derecho’ of violent thunderstorms left a more than 700-mile trail of destruction across the Midwest and mid- Atlantic” last Friday, cutting power to millions and killing 13 people. It hit the Buckeye Lake area just about 5:30 p.m.

“More than 600 damaging wind reports were received by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) as the derecho took roughly 12 hours to race from northern Indiana to the southern mid-Atlantic coast,” AccuWeather.com added. “A derecho is defined as a widespread and long-lived wind storm that accompanies rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. The most severe derechos are given the adjective ‘super.’”

Winds gusted to 91 mph (equal to that of a category 1 hurricane) at the Fort Wayne, Indiana, airport, according to AccuWeather.com. Locally, gusts were measured just over 80 mph.

AccuWeather.com said the super derecho was triggered by a ripple in the jet stream and fueled by the intense heat that set June record highs across the breath of the storm.

Derechos typically strike the lower Midwest st ates once every year, according to the SPC. The occurrence of derechos, however, are quite rare across the mid-Atlantic, south of Philadelphia. On average, this region endures a derecho once every four years.

“One of the most recent significant derechos to slam the United States occurred on May 8, 2009,” AccuWeather.com reported. “This weather phenomena traveled more than a thousand miles in 24 hours from southeastern Kansas to the southern spine of the Appalachian Mountains.

Destruction from the May 2009 derecho totaled millions of dollars with numerous injuries and several deaths reported.

One main difference between the May 2009 derecho and Friday’s is the number of tornadoes spawned. Forty-five tornadoes were sighted in May 2009, while there was only one unconfirmed report of a tornado on the ground in Newcomerstown, Ohio, Friday afternoon.

Winds in the strongest derechos can top 100 mph. The derecho that tore through Wisconsin and Lower Michigan on May 31, 1998, produced a 128 mph wind gust in eastern Wisconsin.”

The storm turned off the lights throughout central Ohio. Most lake area residents lost their power for at least 20-24 hours. Damage in Buckeye Lake Village and within the Village of Hebron was relatively light. Power came back on Saturday afternoon in Buckeye Lake Village, but an early Sunday evening thunderstorm knocked it out again.

The storm’s impact on electrical service varied widely even within relatively small areas. Lieb’s Island residents had power on Saturday yet next door neighbor Millersport was powerless until July 4.

AEP Ohio spokesperson Carmen Prati-Miller said Tuesday that many people didn’t realize the extensiveness of the damage to local power lines following Friday’s intense storm.

“It’s not longer a restoration effort; it’s a rebuilding effort,” she said. Prati-Miller said the storm destroyed power transmission equipment, which severely slowed power restoration. As of Tuesday afternoon, she said there was a total of 281,000 customers out of power in the Newark district, which includes Buckeye Lake Village and Millersport, down from 660,000 without power. Prati-Miller said power in the Newark district was still down for customers in Thornville, Utica, Granville, west Hebron, and the northwest and southeast sides of Newark. “There are a lot of outages,” she said.

At presstime on Wednesday, AEP was still projecting that it would take until Sunday, July 8, to completely restore power in the Newark district. As of 8 p.m. on July 4, AEP said approximately 40,000 customers remain without power in Franklin County and 20,000 in Licking County. At the peak, approximately 45 percent of AEP Ohio’s 1.4 million customers were without power.

AEP has brought in several thousand line workers from affiliate companies and other utilities. For example, crews from Alabama Power were working in Buckeye Lake Village on Monday.

According to about.com weather, Derecho is a Spanish word meaning “straight” or “direct.” In terms of weather, a derecho is a long-lived windstorm with winds in excess of 58 mph. This is equivalent to the damage that can occur during an F1 tornado. The winds are sustained winds and not simply single bursts of wind. There can be gusts of winds in excess of 100 mph. The winds are non-tornadic, although an actual tornado can accompany a derecho. The storms are over 250 miles in length and can cause extensive damage.

Derechos are most common in warm temperatures with July being a peak month to experience such a storm, however, derechos have been observed in all months.

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