Steve Mitnick is President of Lines Up, Inc., Editor-in-Chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly, and author of “Lines Down: How We Pay, Use, Value Grid Electricity Amid the Storm.”
A derecho is defined as a line of intense, widespread, and fast-moving windstorms and sometimes thunderstorms that moves across a great distance and is characterized by damaging winds. That line of text appears to minimize, however, the intensity and destruction that a derecho can produce, and such was the case recently in Iowa.
The Iowa derecho, profiled here, hit largely without warning, a hallmark of such storms, and swept across that state with such ferocity, that disaster proclamations were issued from Audubon County in western Iowa to Scott County some two-hundred fifty miles away in eastern Iowa. During the storm, wind speeds reached one hundred and forty miles per hour, which the National Weather Service noted makes the 2020 derecho a once in a decade storm.
In addition to widespread property damage, nearly six-hundred thousand Iowans were left without power and nearly forty percent of the state's crops were damaged or destroyed. Cedar Rapids and Marshalltown were particularly hard hit. Iowa rarely, if ever, witnessed a storm that left more devastation in its wake. PUF staff talked with Terry Kouba, President, Interstate Power and Light and Dusky Terry, President, ITC Midwest about this costly derecho and extensive restoration efforts. Kouba serves also as Senior VP of Utility Operations at parent company, Alliant Energy.
Iowa Dericho conversations: