Weekend storms officially classified as ‘derecho’

Posted at 11:40 PM, Jul 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-23 23:44:37-04

WEST MICHIGAN -- According to NOAA and the Storm Prediction Center, our Friday night/Saturday morning storms this past weekend are now being classified as a derecho (pronounced dur-ray-cho). If that name sounds familiar to West Michigan, it should. The last significant derecho event we had was in 1998 when 110 to 130 mph winds came screaming across Lake Michigan early in the morning on May 31. Those winds slammed the lakeshore and much of our area. Read more on that event here.

By definition, a derecho is a long-lived wind storm that produces at least 250 miles or more in damage. Wind gusts are minimally 58 mph, but most are substantially more. Take a look at the graphic below. More than five states were affected by this recent derecho totaling more than 1,000 miles! Within this derecho, a microbust of wind occurred in Jenison and produced a downburst of wind of 80+ mph wind. There were other locations outside of Michigan where macroburst damaging winds occurred. The difference? Micro is a much smaller scale than macro.

There were more than 500 storm reports across five states this past weekend, and about a dozen of those were reports of tornadoes across Wisconsin. The derecho knocked out power to more than 150,000 people alone in Michigan for days. There was also widespread trees and limbs down, at least one house completely destroyed, and several others damaged. Flooding rains also followed the initial windstorm. Mason and Lake Counties in west central lower Michigan recorded more than 10 inches of rain from training thunderstorms over the same area. If you'd like to read more about derechos, click here. You can also click here for more information on types of thunderstorms and wind events. Below is an artist rendering of a microburst...small scale damaging winds that can do as much damage or more as a tornado.

This week will be far more on the quiet side with comfortable temperatures and low humidity. Our Lake Michigan sunsets will be fabulous this week too with clear skies! Try to get out with the family and enjoy one. The thumbnail imager attached to this story was a shelf cloud produced by a gust front that was part of a derecho event in Hampshire, Illinois. Thanks to Brittney Misialek and NOAA. Get the complete West Michigan forecast at