Tens of thousands without power in Oklahoma after a record-breaking tornado

Tens of thousands without power in Oklahoma after a record-breaking tornado

Tens of thousands are without power in Oklahoma after a record-breaking tornado. Tornadoes were also reported in Kansas and Texas overnight.

A long line of quick-moving thunderstorms that produced a swath of damaging wind gusts across northern Texas and Oklahoma late Sunday likely qualified the event as a derecho, although that’s not an official designation, said Nolan Meister, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“Last night we had a prolific squall line come through,” Nolan Meister said, noting that a wind gust as high as 114 mph was recorded in Texas, with gusts between 70 and 90 mph in central Oklahoma.

A derecho is often described as an inland hurricane because of the strength of its winds.

According to the National Weather Service, the term comes from the Spanish word “derecho” to mean “direct” or “straight ahead” and was first used in 1888 by a chemist and professor of physical sciences.

The storm has no eye, and its powerful winds come across in a line. That can cause widespread overall damage and smaller pockets of severe damage.

Ryan Maue, a private meteorologist in the Atlanta area and a former chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said a derecho can develop from a series of separate storms, usually carrying hail and strong winds, that combine and build into a larger bowing complex.

The term “bow” describes how it appears on radar.

When that happens, the system “can subsist on its own, it will continually fuel itself,” meteorologist Ryan Maue said. “It can cause tremendous damage with straight-line winds.”

Derechos are relatively rare events, and in the U.S. are more likely to occur in the Corn Belt, an area that ranges from Minnesota and Iowa south and eastward toward the Ohio Valley, according to the National Weather Service.

They’re more likely to occur from May through August, particularly during periods of high heat.

“The climatology of derechos depends on the location and season, but if you consider the entire US (east of the Rockies), then you’ll usually see one or two, possible more per year depending upon the weather patterns,” Ryan Maue said.

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