August 2020 Derecho: A look back at the costliest thunderstorm disaster in US history

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 4:25 PM CDT
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QUAD CITIES, Iowa/Ill. (KWQC) - It has been two years since a damaging derecho moved through seven midwestern states, including Iowa and Illinois.

The sights and sounds of August 10, 2020 will be something many will not soon forget.

A powerful line of thunderstorms with destructive winds, knowns as a derecho, moved through the Midwest.

Around 8:00 that Monday morning, a line of severe thunderstorms began producing damage in parts of South Dakota and Nebraska.

The thunderstorms strengthened and expanded in coverage as they raced to the east and approached eastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois between 1:00 and 2:00 that afternoon.

A good chunk of the TV6 viewing area experienced peak wind gusts greater than 80 mph, including a 79 mph wind gust at the Quad Cities International Airport and an 86 mph gust at the Davenport Municipal Airport.

Some areas to the northwest of the QCA had peak wind gusts between 100 mph and 140 mph.

In Benton County, there was a 125 mph wind gust that snapped the antenna of a 340 foot tower.

Cedar Rapids was not only the hardest hit location in Iowa, but during the entire event.

There was an estimated 140 mph wind gusts that damaged an apartment complex on the southwest side of town, as well as a 130 wind gusts that damaged a strip mall.

Nearly 70% of the city’s tree canopy was destroyed during the derecho.

The damage continued into the TV6 viewing area. A 130 mph wind gust caused a 400 foot radio tower to collapse in Clinton.

In Princeton, Illinois a 110 mph wind gust snapped several power poles.

In all, there was an estimated $11.2 billion in damage along the 770 mile path of the derecho, making it the costliest thunderstorm disaster in United States history.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Iowa and Illinois were without power for several days to several weeks following the disaster.

Four people died as a result of the derecho.

Click here for an event summary from the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities.

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