TEN YEARS LATER: Looking back on the 2012 derecho that devastated the region

Wednesday marks ten years after the crazy wind storm that caused widespread destruction to our area

2012 derecho - Looking back (Copyright 2022 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

ROANOKE, Va. – Derecho: It’s a word that many in Southwest and Central Virginia may have been unfamiliar with before June 29, 2012.

The wind storm certainly left a mark on our region. An entire decade later, many of you are sharing your memories of what happened that day and in the days that followed.

Here’s what Carmela Varcacia had to say on our Facebook page:

Derecho memories (Copyright 2022 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

You can read more testimonials here.

The derecho impacted hundreds of thousands of people in our area, many of whom may wonder why the derecho occurred.

To start, the day was incredibly hot with record high temperatures.

On this day - June 29, 2012 (Copyright 2022 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

Roanoke and Danville hit 104°F, and the high was 103°F in Lynchburg.

The lingering heat in the evening provided fuel for the derecho to stay strong when it reached our areas.

The storm started near Chicago and progressed to the Southeast, causing widespread wind damage along its path.

More than 4 million people lost power because of the large storm.

This type of storm is remarkably large – a derecho is defined as traveling at least 400 miles and being at least 60 miles wide.

Derecho criteria (Copyright 2022 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

Lucky for us, we haven’t seen a storm this strong since that day. In general, derechos only happen every 2-4 years in our areas.

Areas to the west see these wind storms much more frequently, though.

Derecho frequency (Copyright 2022 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

The National Weather Service in Blacksburg has a nice step-by-step write-up of the 2012 derecho here.

Your Local Weather Authority will be covering the derecho anniversary on-air, online and on social media.


About the Author:

Justin McKee presents the weather forecast on 10 News Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6 to 8 a.m. He also fills in for other meteorologists during the week.