You say derecho, I say “what?”

Like many other residents of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states, I learned a new weather term this week: derecho.  After scrambling to the dictionary and Wikipedia, I learned that the word is pronounced deh-RAY-cho and comes from the Spanish word for “straight.”  A derecho is a rapidly-moving line of storms that has been referred to as a something resembling a hurricane over land.  The derecho that struck June 29, 2012, and caused extensive damage and power outages in areas from Indiana to Virginia came with relatively little warning. Over 1,000 high-wind reports came in to NOAA’s National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center on June 29, and NOAA’s map of the event shows a lit-up corridor of reports along the derecho’s path.  The storms are relatively rare events but are likely to become more widely known and understood as the June 2012 damage assessment and recovery efforts continue in the coming weeks and months. The NOAA Storm Prediction Center’s page “About Derechos” provides extensive background and resources on these types of storms. Accuweather’s description of the June “super derecho” and  Discovery’s “DC Derecho Disaster Explained” include details about the June 29, 2012, event.  If you’re one of the fortunate who have power and online access in the wake of the storm, you can help The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang select a name for this extreme weather event by voting for the term you think best fits— “Swelter in Place” and “Derechosaurus Wrecks” are running neck-and-neck so far today.

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