An intense line of destructive thunderstorms known as a derecho wreaked havoc across the central United States on Thursday with hurricane-force winds and possible tornadoes.
Multiple tractor-trailers were blown over on Interstate 57 near Tuscola, Illinois, located about 140 miles south of Chicago. Illinois State Police were on the scene, but it was unclear if there were any injuries. The storms raced across Illinois at 70 mph, faster than some vehicles on the highway.
Winds gusted to 70 mph at Indianapolis International Airport as the storms moved through, followed by a frenzy of reports across the city of downed trees and power lines.
Cincinnati is the next major city in line to be blasted by the derecho.
Over 280,000 electric customers were without power as of 3:00 p.m. CDT Thursday, according to PowerOutage.us. Nearly 200,000 of the outages were across central Illinois where the worst of the weather unfolded.
The cluster of thunderstorms initially fired early Wednesday night over northeastern Colorado and swept across southern Nebraska throughout the night. The storms strengthened over southern Iowa and northern Missouri on Thursday morning and blitzed eastward throughout the day, eventually plowing over Illinois and into Indiana by Thursday afternoon.
AccuWeather meteorologists declared the storm cluster a derecho early Thursday afternoon.
A derecho is a line of strong thunderstorms that produces frequent wind gusts of at least 58 mph over the span of at least 400 miles. During particularly dangerous derechos, wind gusts can exceed 100 mph.
As of 2:30 p.m. CDT Thursday, the highest wind gust from the derecho was 90 mph in Adrian, Illinois, located about 130 miles northwest of St. Louis. Winds of 90 mph are common near the center of a Category 1 hurricane.
Previously, the “Midwest derecho” of August 10, 2020 was equally devastating. During this particular incident, a strong line of thunderstorms called a derecho traveled from Iowa to Indiana, wreaking havoc and knocking out electricity to millions of people. The storm, which produced hurricane-force wind gusts and seriously damaged trees, buildings, and power infrastructure along its route, moved 770 miles (1,240 kilometers) in 14 hours.
Produced in association with AccuWeather