August derecho among the most costly storms in U.S. since 1980

Iowa News

Iowa (WHO/AP) — The devastating storm that tore through Iowa in August was one of the most costly storms the country has seen in the last 40 years, according to a new report.

The storm, known as a derecho, generated winds of up to 140 mph (225 kph) that flattened millions of acres of crops, knocked out power to half a million Iowa residents, damaged homes, trees, and power lines.

The derecho traveled 770 miles from southeast South Dakota to Ohio. The storm killed four people, including three Iowans, and injured 60 others in its path. 

The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration says the Aug. 10 storm caused $7.5 billion in damage, making it the fourth most costly severe storm in the country since 1980.

National Weather Service meteorologist Allan Curtis told the Des Moines Register that the derecho caused such extensive damage because it lasted for roughly 14 hours and hit crops when they were especially vulnerable. He said the damage would have been significantly less if the derecho had occurred in the spring, before crops were tall enough to be caught by the wind.

“If you were looking to exert the most damage on corn crops when it comes to thunderstorms and heavy winds, when the derecho rolled through in August, it was the perfect time to do it,” Curtis said.

The U.S. Agriculture Department has estimated that Iowa farmers will be unable to harvest at least 850,000 acres (343,983 hectares) of crops this fall because of the damage.

Iowa farmers suffered some of the costliest damages, including a loss of 850,000 acres of crops.

The report ranked the derecho the second-worst natural disaster in the country this year, just behind Hurricane Laura. The hurricane caused 42 deaths and $14 billion in damage, according to the report. 

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