What is the opposite of a tornado?
September 8, 2008 7:04 PM   Subscribe

Derechos are big, nasty storms you've probably never heard of. Join two swearing guys watching a derecho in Illinois(youtube warning).

Want more weather geek details? Wikipedia doesn't do a bad job. Listen to meteorologists (warning: noise) describe your weather nightmares.

I saw the More Trees Down Derecho, which was called The Green Storm in SE Michigan, which left stuff like this in my neighbourhood (picture is of the aftermath of a different derecho on the other side of Michigan).
posted by QIbHom (29 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Holy buckets!
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:19 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Holy . . . damn it Mary.
posted by nola at 7:21 PM on September 8, 2008

"We are currently performing site maintenance. Be cool - we'll be back 100% in a bit. "

well, that sucks
posted by HuronBob at 7:22 PM on September 8, 2008

Join two swearing really gay guys FTFY

"Touch those clouds, Rick. Touch 'em. You know you want to."

posted by WolfDaddy at 7:25 PM on September 8, 2008

I've driven thrlugh Illinois and let me tell you those folks are not from Wisconsin nor are they form Kentucky, they are from some other middle sort of area. An area devoid of sweet-tea and bereft of cheese curds. What do they have? Deep dish is all I can think of at the mo-m0nt.
posted by nola at 7:26 PM on September 8, 2008

We drove through a derecho on the way home from Minneapolis in July and let me tell you, that was one spooky-ass storm. I have a weather phobia -- it comes from growing up in Tornado Alley without a basement -- and the derecho did not help matters, let me tell you.
posted by sugarfish at 7:31 PM on September 8, 2008

What constantly amazes me is that not only do you lot still live in the areas where all these Tornadoes and nasty storms frequently occur, but you also insist in building flimsy houses made out of wood.

Have you never heard of the three little pigs?
posted by Brockles at 7:35 PM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

hurrrrrrhhhh... weatherporn...
posted by not_on_display at 7:35 PM on September 8, 2008

Brockles, according to this page of dubious origin, Michigan is the best state to live in if you want to avoid weather damage.

We do need more wolves.
posted by QIbHom at 7:39 PM on September 8, 2008

Let me tell you, I sure could use an edit function.
posted by sugarfish at 7:43 PM on September 8, 2008

Me, too, sugarfish *cringes at awkward wording in post*
posted by QIbHom at 7:48 PM on September 8, 2008

I almost got my ass kicked in Effingham in a blue collar bar. I was just there for a six pack to go, but the fellows at the bar didn't like the sound of my voice, or the length of my hair so they got real close to me and started asking what I was doing in thier bar. Just then a big biker dude came in, "Hi" said the bar maid, "Not anymore" he said and sat down. For some reason the fellows left me be, and I bought my beer and went back to my room unharmed. That was the first time I ate the deep dish, it was take out and it was fine.
posted by nola at 7:55 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was awake at around 6 am when the Mid-South Derecho hit. At first I heard a bit of wind blowing through the trees, which quickly turned into what sounded like a bad summer storm. A minute later, the power goes out and I go to the window in time to have pecan trees bent about 75 degrees off horizontal confront me with the choice of dying inside a house crushed flat by falling trunks or stepping outside to be pierced through the torso by tree limbs turned missiles.

(spoiler alert: I didn't succumb to barky annihilation but spending two weeks without power at the height of July was almost as bad.)
posted by bunnytricks at 7:55 PM on September 8, 2008

weather porn, indeed! I can't believe I've never heard of these things before. not that we ever have interesting storms in the bay area *sigh* just earthquakes and guns and stuff *SIGH*
posted by supermedusa at 8:23 PM on September 8, 2008

posted by rtha at 8:43 PM on September 8, 2008

Something like unto this hit here a couple of weeks ago. One minute light rain and an approaching storm, the next minute HOLY COW LISTEN TO THAT WIND OH MAN WHAT WAS THAT...big gust of wind 50 or so mph hit the house square on.

Our yard looked literally like a hurricane had come through. I knew we'd had a bit of really really weird weather...nice to know there's a name for it.
posted by konolia at 8:45 PM on September 8, 2008

Downbursts and Derechos can actually be spotted on radar quiet easily -- the sharp wind gradient kicks up so much dust and debris that the radar can pick up the gusts. This animated GIF is radar reflectivity from the St. Louis NWS radar on July 19th, 2006. The bow in front of the storm is the leading edge of the wind front.

The result of this was an extremely extensive and widespread power outage -- I was living in the City of St. Louis at the time, we lost power for three days. There were people who didn't have power for a couple of weeks after this one.

These gust fronts can persist for a long time -- slowly weakening, but still moving -- and trigger storms the next day.
posted by eriko at 9:21 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Michigan is the best state to live in if you want to avoid weather damage.

i guess the definition of weather damage doesn't include 13 inches of snow on good friday - and yes, i've heard of these storms and experienced them here
posted by pyramid termite at 9:28 PM on September 8, 2008

I remember the one eriko is talking about. I was tutoring, and went outside to make *damn* sure my windows were up, and almost was knocked off my feet as I headed back to the classroom.

The resulting power outage killed my fridge, and my now-wife wouldn't let me replace the fridge with my "spare" that had lived in the garage. So the kitchen got a brand-new fridge, and I got a beer fridge in the basement.

Thank heavens for derechos.
posted by notsnot at 9:37 PM on September 8, 2008

eriko: was that the one that delayed the Cardinals game, and that lady got hit by the flying trash can? I bet it was, because that was the first season at Busch III... now I have to see if I can find the video.

Sure enough. Check it out weather pervs: Derecho causes first trash-can-related injury at Busch III
posted by bjork24 at 9:52 PM on September 8, 2008

posted by loquacious at 12:31 AM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

I didn't know that these had a special name; I've always referred to them as a "big fuckin' windstorm", or variations thereof. We had one in Peoria a couple of weeks back, knocked down a bunch of trees.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:51 AM on September 9, 2008

Two castrati & a cam-corder.
posted by Zambrano at 8:03 AM on September 9, 2008

I was awake at around 6 am when the Mid-South Derecho hit.

I was not awake when that storm (aka Hurricane Elvis) first hit, but the patio furniture getting thrown against the windows on the second floor where I was sleeping woke me up. It was a really odd sight to wake up to, the furniture tumbling around like that and some of it twirling up into the air. It was strangely like a tornado yet not, and then over pretty fast. Those 2 weeks without power in July/August were really weird. Only time I've ever driven across the city in total darkness except for a few stray lights left here and there. It was like being somewhere else entirely. The place was just so very disabled. I heard at the time that the city had to order so many traffic signals that the manufacturer had to put them on back order. The weirdest thing was how there was no national news coverage whatsoever. We lived in the heat and the dark for 2 weeks, in a major city disabled by a storm with wind speeds equal to a hurricane. No one even noticed.

Photos! Some descriptions and more photos.
posted by Tehanu at 8:33 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

On Long Island Sound I think these are what we called 'line squalls' ???
posted by notreally at 8:50 AM on September 9, 2008

I think derechos are line squalls on testosterone. Not sure, though. Can't line squalls be local?
posted by QIbHom at 10:40 AM on September 9, 2008

We had one in Urbandale IA about 5 years ago at about 11 PM. I'm a bit of a fan of strong weather so I had been watching its approach on weatherunderground. It looked like a strong but fairly normal storm.
My first clue came when I saw the police driving very slowly down the street, later I figured that law enforcement from the west of us had called and told the police in Urbandale what was coming and they were making sure that nobody was outside. I don't know why the tornado sirens weren't activated.
My second clue came when I was standing outside. It was a bit breezy and then it started blowing a heavy, billowing mist. I had never seen it before and haven't seen it since. Next time I see it I'll know.
My third clue was watching the clouds and seeing them move in all different directions across 180 degrees.
Then it hit. The lightning was strobing. Huge oaks and maples were bent and reshaped like wind-inverted umbrellas. There were limbs snapping off all around us. Transformers were exploding and power lines were being unmoored. My ex said "Isn't this something you should be recording?" (on the camcorder) but at this point I was getting scared. Lawn furniture, inflatable pools, branches, childrens toys, garbage and garbage cans were flying down the street. As the wind came around the house it curved, I thought we might be in a tornado. We briefly debated waking the kids, ages 11 and 6, who were miraculously asleep, and drag them to the basement (parents will risk childrens lives to keep them asleep). As we briefly debated, the storm passed leaving us with a clean, cool breeze.
The NWS reported the next day that winds had reached 85 mph. Limbs and trees were down all over the neighborhood but ours were not too bad. I drug the downed limbs to the curb as that was what everyone else, Stepford-wise, was doing. I collected a couple of those plastic chairs and one inflatable swimming pool from the yard and placed them on the parking strip with a sign saying that if these were yours please reclaim them (they were).
I went and helped some neighbors with a downed tree, they were oddly aloof, I hate Iowa.

If you see the heavy blowing-mist it is time to start paying attention.
posted by vapidave at 9:49 PM on September 9, 2008

First time poster, coming late to the discussion...

QIbHom, the 'page of dubious origin' talks about damage in terms of cost. While real estate here in Michigan (especially with our economy as of late) has always been moderate-to-cheap, we definately get our share of storms - straight line winds (sometimes more destructive than a tornado, due to their wide paths), tornados and blizzards. Michigan is also considered to be on the edge of 'tornado alley'.

This last fall/winter/spring has been very active. You can see photos I took right after an EF-3 tornado came through the Potterville, MI in August of 2007 here.

This was followed by a tornado outbreak in October that hit parts of mid/southest Michigan. October is extremely late for us to have tornados in Michigan.

Even stranger was the tornado warnings in January - which is nearly unheard of.

Many areas in Mid-Michigan also broke the snowfall record this past winter.

Early this spring, we had a tremedous amount of straight line wind damage spread over a few days.
posted by waxlight at 4:45 PM on September 10, 2008

waxlight, I don't disagree, as a native Michigander (even if I've moved away). Michigan does get storms. The Flint tornado was horrible.

But, for the most part, Michigan gets stuff like power outages for a day or two due to snow. That just isn't going to compare to most hurricanes or to the Mississippi flooding. Or even to a severe heat wave.
posted by QIbHom at 6:12 PM on September 10, 2008

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