It’s a much quieter morning waking up in the Quad Cities today than it was four years ago when a derecho was racing through the area bringing down power lines, trees, and bringing life to a stand still for many east of the Mississippi River.
When ABBA and I awoke at around 6 a.m. on June 21, 2008, we didn’t see the summer sun rising. What we saw were dark skies and wind blowing and bending trees nearly to the ground. My neighbors across the street, at the time, had just planted a new tree in their yard and I was looking out my window to see if the young tree would withstand the winds. I didn’t realize that I should have been more concerned with Bob’s tree on the corner. The young tree survived the winds, but the other trees did not make it through the storms.
Derechos are widespread, long-lived, straight-line wind storms associated with fast-moving bands of severe thunderstorms. Here is the radar image from the Quad Cities’ National Weather Service office when the winds hit the metro area and a campground in Colona killing two children.
In the aftermath of the winds that morning four years ago, we were without electricity and air conditioning for about three days at my house in Moline. During the day, Miss ABBA and I spent our time helping neighbors clean up the debris in their yards.
Miss ABBA thought the branches and trees were there for her amusement and fun, not part of devastating winds.
In the afternoon and evenings, I would go to work and present the weather with the help of generators. For days, I presented the weather sitting in a chair in the weather center in a dress shirt and tie and shorts because we had no air conditioning and we didn’t have enough lights on to present the forecast from the chromakey wall with the graphics behind me. Miss ABBA was sitting at my feet with the fan blowing on her and I was just hoping she wouldn’t bark. Most of the Mississippi and Illinois Valleys had electricity, but not Moline!
The nicest thing about the lack of modern amenities like power and air conditioning was the camaraderie between neighbors. We knew that food wouldn’t last in the freezer without electricity, so we had grill-outs to use up the food. It was heart warming to hang out with my neighbors.
WHAT I BLOGGED IN 2008
Here is what I blogged about the winds and the derecho on my weather blog at WQAD in July 2008:
“A derecho moved through the Quad Cities around 6 a.m. Monday killing a child in Henry County, Illinois, leaving hundreds of thousands without electricity, and downed countless trees across streets and onto homes.
While many questioned whether a tornado had hit the Quad Cities, a survey team from the National Weather Service in Davenport, Iowa, concluded it was a derecho. This is a widespread, slow-moving line of incredible high winds embedded in severe thunderstorms. It is more commonly known as “straight-line winds”.
At Quad City International in Moline, Illinois, the peak wind gust was 94 miles-per-hour at 6:15 a.m. The last higher wind gust to hit the airport was back in March 2006 when a gust of 107 miles-per-hour was recorded.
Other official measured wind gusts were 72 miles-per-hour in Mount Pleasant, in Henry County, Iowa, and Davenport only reported a peak wind of 40 miles-per-hour.
Our weather watcher in Princeton, Illinois, Cyle Dickens, reported a gust of 91 miles-per-hour before he lost electricity and additional weather data.
While the three energy companies in the Quad Cities have restored electricity to many homes, as of 6 p.m. Monday, there were still about 80,000 people without power, most of those on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River.
Sadly, a tree fell onto a tent at the Indian Trails Resort in Colona, Illinois, killing a 4-year-old boy and critically injuring two other children. More than 100 trees littered the campground in the aftermath of the storms.
Finally, if there is a silver lining to this horrible weather situation, I am proud to speak highly of my neighbors on Moline’s west side. Within minutes of the lightning and the rain subsiding, crowds of people came out of their homes to help to clear the street of downed trees, which was massive in number.
From 6 a.m. until noon today, you could see neighbors walking down the street with saws in their hands and branches being dragged to the side of the street as the clean-up progressed.
A special thank you to everyone helping out their neighbors and friends in this time of need.
Thursday, July 24th, 2008
MidAmerican Energy and visiting power crews from eight states are in the Quad Cities working feverishly to restore electricity to thousands.
At one point Monday, more than 134,000 homes were without power and for the first time since then, that number has dropped to just below 20,000 Thursday night at 10:13 p.m.
If there’s any consolation to this dire situation, other than a few sprinkles of rain here and there, it has been dry since Monday in the Quad Cities.
Also, cooler than normal temperatures for late-July are making living without air conditioning and electricity a little easier to handle.
However, changes are on the way for the Quad Cities this weekend as warmer and more humid air moves in with the threat of thunderstorms Friday evening and again late Saturday night and Sunday.
As I’ve said on the air and in a previous blog entry, it’s usually when bad things happen that we really get to see the good in most people.
Another thing I’ve come to realize over the past few days is how good it feels to exert yourself to make life easier for others.
Although I donate time and money to different charities and I work to raise awareness for other groups and events, I never thought I’d enjoy scraping up my arms and legs and blistering my hands by cutting up trees and dragging limbs to the street with my neighbors as much as I have since Monday.
It’s that feeling of community and pride of living in the Quad Cities that shines brightly in these dark times.
Stay safe this weekend and remember to lend a helping hand to your neighbor. You never know if you’ll be the one needing help another time.”
TOO MUCH WIND THEN, A DROUGHT NOW
Sadly, the death toll rose to two from that storm as another one of the injured children at the campgrounds died.
Today, while I don’t really like the drought, I’m glad we’re not dealing with the aftermath of the storms in July 2008.
Have a great weekend everyone.