A look back: Devastating derecho struck Virginia eight years ago

A line of thunderstorms with destructive winds knocked out power for days for many in the two Virginias

A look back: Devastating derecho struck Virginia eight years ago
Late on the evening of June 29, 2012, a line of severe storms crossed Central Virginia with destructive wind gusts, knocking out power to millions. (Image credit: Storm Prediction Center) (Source: WWBT)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A destructive line of severe thunderstorms hit Virginia eight years ago on June 29, 2012, knocking out power to five million people.

A derecho (from the Spanish word for straight) is defined as an intense, widespread straight-line wind storm, and the derecho of June 2012 is now considered a textbook example.

The line of severe storms began in Iowa/Illinois early in the afternoon on June 29, 2012 and quickly raced southeastward across Indiana and Ohio while gaining strength and expanded in size. Wind gusts reached hurricane force, greater than 80 mph.

A huge swath of hurricane force winds from a fast moving derecho left damage from Indiana to Virginia and Maryland. (Image Credit: Storm Prediction Center).
A huge swath of hurricane force winds from a fast moving derecho left damage from Indiana to Virginia and Maryland. (Image Credit: Storm Prediction Center). (Source: WWBT)

Extreme heat fueled the system. On the 29th, Central Virginia was HOT. In fact, we set a new record for the date at 103°. It was a 3-day stretch of scorching weather.

The derecho caused extensive damage, knocking down trees and power lines as it crossed the Appalachian mountains in West Virginia. The storms killed 22 people as trees fell on houses and cars. In many places, power was out for days and even up to a week before it was restored.

As the storms crossed Central Virginia late in the evening hours, they continued to cause tree damage and loss of power, leaving a lasting memory in many Virginians mind they will never forget.

On the day before and the day after the derecho, we hit 96°. The heat the day after the derecho was miserable for many as the power (and Air Conditioning) was still out!

Andrew Freiden recorded a segment on the derecho for NBC12′s How We Got Here podcast. Listen to his segment to learn more about this weather phenomenon and the events that unfolded eight years ago.

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