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Deadly Midwest Wind Storm Gives No Warning

By: April Feng

An unusual wind storm descended upon the Midwest this past week. The derecho, or wind storm, hit especially hard due to the lack of warning that would typically come with a hurricane or storm of this degree.

According to US News, “a series of thunderstorms that had formed the night before in South Dakota had picked up strength as [they] moved across Nebraska.” The derecho killed at least three people in Iowa.

Although forecasters had predicted thunderstorms that day, no one was expecting a storm of that degree. “I sure didn’t hear anything about it,” said farmer Dave Struthers. “It blew strong for 10 or more minutes. Just solid. It just kept going.”

Some communities were warned by tornado sirens sounding just 20 to 30 minutes before. However, most people were unaware of the severe storm that was to occur.

Scientists say the formation of a derecho is not apparent, making it difficult to give advance warning. Despite that, it is unsure if warnings would have helped, since many in the Midwest have been desensitized to severe weather warnings.

Patrick Marsh, chief at Norman, Oklahoma Storm Prediction Center, states, "Severe thunderstorms in general need to be taken seriously...[They] can be just as dangerous to a person as a derecho can be to a series of communities, but we don’t think about severe thunderstorms in that regard.”

The derecho had economic impact as well. The U.S. Department of Agriculture was expecting a “record national corn crop this year of 15.3 billion bushels harvested from about 84 million acres,” with Iowa providing 18% of that production, says Associated Press. According to NPR, Iowa’s corn crop is worth billions of dollars.

State officials estimate that tens of millions of bushels of on-farm storage grain bins, in addition to hundreds of millions of bushels of commercial storage grain bins, were lost to the storm. Another 14 million acres of farmland may have also been damaged.

According to NPR, “Fields planted with this year's corn were flattened, while grain bins containing last year's harvest were torn open.” Craig Floss, CEO of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, explains the significance of the damage. “This really comes at a time when farmers are already significantly hurting due to the pandemic and trade disputes,” he said. “This just adds insult to the injury that was already there.”

Superintendent of Clinton schools, Gary DeLacy, told Iowa Public Radio, “I’ve never seen a storm like this [...] I’ve never seen the city hit like this.”

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