What is a derecho?

The swath of straight-line wind damage must cover a distance of at least 400 miles

A cluster of thunderstorms that produces destructive wind gusts for hundreds of miles and can impact millions of people is known as a derecho.

For meteorologists to classify a windstorm as a derecho – from the Spanish word for "straight" – the swath of straight-line wind damage it causes must cover a distance of at least 400 miles and include wind gusts over 58 mph along most of its path, as well as several, well-separated 75-mph or higher gusts, according to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center.

Derechos can occur at any time of the year but are more common when a clash of air masses happens during the spring and summer.

The damaging-wind events vary in size, but it is not uncommon for winds to exceed more than 100 mph and produce tornado-like destruction for several hundred miles.

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One of the most significant derecho events in U.S. history occurred throughout much of the Midwest during the summer of 2020.

During the event, winds gusted upward of 140 mph, causing more than $7.5 billion in damage.

If you are in the path of a high-wind event such as a derecho, it is advised that you get indoors and move away from windows and doors.

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