What is a derecho? A meteorologist explains

Sorghum Sudan blown over near Oraville in Jackson County. (Photo submitted by Gary Tretter II)

A severe weather system known as a derecho barreled through northern and central Illinois along with other parts of the Midwest Monday. The strong winds — approaching 100 miles in some areas — left widespread damage.

What is a derecho? 

“It’s a long lasting, long tracking cluster of severe thunderstorms that generally produce very damaging straight-line winds,” Freese-Notis Meteorologist Dan Hicks explained during a Tuesday visit with RFD Radio.

The system also impacted Iowa and parts of Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio and tracked more than 700 miles in a 14-hour span on Monday, according to the NOAA Storm Prediction Center. The system fired up in northern Nebraska and far southeast South Dakota Sunday night.

“It was kind of moving eastward along a cool front and when you have that long-lasting, severe weather, very often these thunderstorms produce extremely strong straight-line winds,” Hicks said. “There were some unconfirmed reports of winds near 100 miles per hour.”

The storms died out in the eastern Midwest Monday night.

“I saw almost 900 reports of severe weather from these storms Monday and the great majority were from strong straight-line winds,” Hicks said.

The storm system also caused many power outages, as well as tree and property damage in its 770-mile path.