Southern Illinois Derecho: Five Years Later - WPSD Local 6: Your news, weather, and sports authority

Southern Illinois Derecho: Five Years Later

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On May 8th, 2009, a derecho left its mark on the Local 6 area.  National Weather Service Science Operations Officer, Pat Spoden, says it's a storm he will never forget.

"It's basically a band of thunderstorms that organize together and produce a large area of damaging winds," said Spoden.

Wind speeds from the storm topped 100 miles an hour.  It had one feature you don't usually see in a storm that far inland.

"What was interesting about it, what we call the "bookend vortex", many people saw what they thought was the eye of a hurricane," said Spoden

It was no eye and not a large tornado, but it did produce most of the damage.

"That "bookend vortex" was very large for this type of storm.  I've only seen one or two others that big around the country," said Spoden.

Derecho is a Spanish word meaning "direct" or "straight ahead".  Straight-line winds are most commonly seen with derechos that can reach speeds greater than 57 mph.  Wind that strong can cause a lot of damage.

"Trees were falling on houses and cars. There was a lot of damage up at SIU.  Windows were broken.  We had some roofs lifted off some structures," said Spoden.

It's an event to be taken very seriously.

"You're looking at 80 mile per hours winds, at times.  This is not your ordinary thunderstorm.  There are extraordinary thunderstorms," said Spoden.

Extraordinary storms that cause extensive damage.
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