From the ABC 7 Weather team

Derecho: Where Did The Word Come From? And What Does It Mean?

July 3, 2012 - 05:00 AM
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Wondering where the word Derecho comes from?  Everything you wanted to know about the word that all of us in D.C. are now all too familiar with.

(Photo: Casual Capture/flickr)

You've heard about it and experienced it first hand - Derecho.  But do you know what the word even means?  Aside from wreaking havoc on the area and causing widespread damage and destruction.  Here's a snap shot from the Storm Prediction Center (image below) of the derecho, as it tore through the lower Great Lakes and eventually through D.C.  Note the life span of the storm.  This one storm traveled over 600 miles -- with winds greater than 70 mph in most places!

Storm Prediction Center - June 29, 2012 Derecho

Well, the word, Derecho, is a Spanish term.  Derecho, as an adverb, means straight, upright, directly.  As an adjective, derecho, means right.   This pretty much sums up the event right here.  Derecho's are long lived, widespread, straight line wind storms.  Typically, thunderstorm complexes travel from left to right, so ergo -- the name, derecho.  It all makes sense.

The term originated from Dr. Gustavus Hinrichs in 1888.  Hinrichs wrote a paper for the American Meteorological Journal that described the phenomenon of a derecho that crossed Iowa on July 31, 1877.  Derecho's aren't very common in the D.C. area

These storms often cause widespread wind damage and can even result in fatalities.  Unfortunately, the D.C. derecho of 2012 will go in the record books because of its huge impact on the D.C. area

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