Previous local derecho events

A large fallen tree in Staunton.
A large fallen tree in Staunton.(WHSV)
Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 10:21 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2022 at 9:03 AM EDT
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SHENANDOAH VALLEY, Va. (WHSV) - While the derecho event of June 2012 is the most memorable, we have had other derecho events in our area. It was just never referred to as a derecho.

The term ‘derecho’ is not a new weather term. It was coined in the 1880s and adopted by the Meteorological community to an extent. The term seemed to get lost for a number of decades but was revived in 1987 by two Meteorologists at the Storm Prediction Center.

With the 2012 Mid-Atlantic derecho, the term was widely used on social media and News outlets especially because this event impacted Washington, D.C. and the public became more aware of this term. According to the Storm Prediction Center, our area averages one derecho every 2-4 years. Just like with other weather events, some derechos are stronger than others.

Keep in mind with a lot of these past storm events not all damage is reported and there was likely much more damage than what is in the official report. This is why it is important to report all damage.

Derechos have happened in the past, it was just not called one publicly. With the photos shown below, it’s a combination of radar with damaging wind reports. The wind reports are the blue dots. A derecho that has the curved front to the line of storms is visible in the radar images. That curved front, called a ‘bow echo’ is a sign of high, straight line winds.

As always if you have any photos or video from any of these weather events, you can always upload those to whsv.com

Recently derecho criteria has changed. It was previously a damaging wind path of 240 miles or longer, now that has been updated to 400 miles or longer.

Not every storm is a derecho, this is the criteria for a derecho event
Not every storm is a derecho, this is the criteria for a derecho event(whsv)

Derecho events listed from most recent to oldest:

May 18, 2018

Derecho. Wind damage reports and radar snapshot
Derecho. Wind damage reports and radar snapshot(whsv)

Local coverage from this event:

May 2018 derecho

Local coverage, storm reports and damage information

May 14, 2018 derecho

June 13, 2013

While this was a derecho event, locally there were strong to severe storms but little damage. Most of the damage was concentrated to Shenandoah County. Multiple trees down in the Shenandoah National Forest. Also a report of 17 trees down on Van Buren Road in Shenandoah County.

Multiple trees fell in Nelson county with wind estimates of 60mph. In West Virginia there were trees down between Onego and Seneca Rocks. Multiple trees down in Hardy county with wind gusts estimated at 60mph.

East Coast derecho event
East Coast derecho event(NWS)

June 4, 2008

This was an incredible day of storms across the area, in fact there were three rounds of storms. The strongest being in the early afternoon, and then again in the late afternoon/early evening.

Winds were so strong it was thought that a tornado touched down in Page county because of the amount of damage.

The NWS came out to do a storm survey and discovered a 3 mile path of straight-line wind damage with winds estimated at nearly 100mph!

Local coverage of this event:

June 2008 Derecho

Local coverage

Derecho: June 4, 2008

May 21, 2004

Derecho. Wind damage reports and radar snapshot
Derecho. Wind damage reports and radar snapshot(whsv)

Later that same month, a more damaging derecho struck from eastern Nebraska and Iowa, through the Great Lakes, the Ohio Valley and right into the Mid-Atlantic. Locally wind gusts exceeded 50mph and were estimated to be as high as 60mph. Numerous trees came down as well as nickel to penny size hail.

Reports locally were down trees in Woodstock and Broadway. Down trees and power lines in Shenandoah and Sherando.

May 7, 2004

A complex of storms led to damage across the Mid-Atlantic. Locally some wind gusts exceeded 50mph. In Basye an estimated 60mph gust took down some trees. In Grant county trees were also reported as being down.

In Spotsylvania a stage collapsed at an outdoor festival.

Local derecho event
Local derecho event(NWS)

August 9, 2000

Derecho. Wind damage reports and radar snapshot
Derecho. Wind damage reports and radar snapshot(whsv)

This particular event had a big impact across the area. This derecho impacted the area in the afternoon. Winds were at least 55mph and some higher gusts. Numerous trees down in Highland county. A fire from a lightning strike destroyed a barn near Blue Grass.

Many trees were down across Augusta County and several structures were damaged as a result of the high wind. In Staunton, a wind gust of 65mph was recorded and a tree that was downed at the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace damaged a brick wall. Windows were even blown out and an apartment roof was damaged.

In Stuarts Draft, a downed tree damaged a house and a tractor and high wind removed the aluminum roof from a barn. In Waynesboro, trees and power lines were downed.

In Rockingham County, trees and power lines were downed in Timberville, Elkton, Keezletown, and Rawley Springs. Some trees were felled across roads and one tree fell onto a car in Keezletown. Hail fell in Timberville.

In Shenandoah County, an F0 tornado briefly touched down on property adjacent to Red Bank Road near Bowman’s Crossing. The 15 yard wide twister started by sucking up water on the banks of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. Next, it moved onshore and traveled north for two tenths of a mile. It downed or snapped five trees and flattened part of a corn field before dissipating.

August 9, 2000
August 9, 2000(whsv)

Straight line winds downed trees and power lines near New Market and Mt. Jackson. A wind gust of 42 MPH was recorded in Edinburg and hail fell in New Market. In Page County, downed trees and power lines blocked roads in Stanley.

A wind gust of 41 MPH was recorded in Luray where a downed tree punctures the roof of a house.

April 9, 1991

This one dubbed the “West Virginia Derecho”, storms started in Arkansas and moved to the northeast. Just in West Virginia, insurance damage claims were filed for 8,000 homes and businesses. More than 200,000 West Virginia customers lost power from the derecho.

Derecho event
Derecho event(NWS)

July 4-5, 1980

Path, damage and wind gust reports
Path, damage and wind gust reports(NWS)
Newspaper article
Newspaper article(No credit)

This derecho is called the “more trees down derecho” with winds of 50-70mph between Virginia and West Virginia.

In Woodstock a home suffered extensive damage after a nearby garage roof blew into the home. Two aircrafts were overturned at the Charlottesville airport.

June 26, 1954

Derecho Event
Derecho Event(NWS)

A derecho traveled from the Great Lakes to the Mid-Atlantic, impacting the Valley around 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, June 27, 1954. According to a newspaper report a tornado was thought to have touched down in New Market flattening 3/4 of the New Market Poultry Farm. “Other parts of the building were twisted and buckled. There was also damage in the town.”

Now even in past tornado archives, this is not a confirmed tornado. So this is not in the National Weather Service database. It very well could have been the extreme straight-line winds over 70mph.

Across the rest of the area trees were snapped off and debris flown across the region. SVEC at the time reported many outages.

The newspaper states that Harrisonburg avoided the worst of the storm although there were still high winds with heavy. Some damage on the northern part of the town with windows blown out and down trees.

The newspaper states the worst of the wind was about a 12 mile stretch from Broadway and Timberville to Tenth Legion and Meems Bottom. It’s also noted in the newspaper that the highest wind didn’t last that long, certainly not as long as the 2012 derecho.

There was more damage to the power lines in Shenandoah County compared to Augusta County. Dozens of men worked hard in the hours after the storm and most of the power was restored in about 24 hours.

In D.C. wind gusts were at least 66mph.

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