Weather Stories

Derecho with 98 mph gust hits Fort Wayne; 22,700 without power

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WISH) — The National Weather Service says a Monday night derecho in Fort Wayne broke the city’s high wind record.

Gusts hit 98 mph at 10:39 p.m. Monday at Fort Wayne International Airport. The former record for the city was 91 mph on June 30, 2012.

Damage was severe, according to Indiana Michigan Power, which says about 22,700 Fort Wayne customers may not have power restored until Thursday night. I&M has 450 employees working to restore power, and called into 450 “mutual assistance” crews to help. Fort Wayne has 272,400 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

I&M found more than 140 broken or damaged poles, 16 damaged transformers, and more than 300 individual spans of downed wires. An I&M news release said, “The number of fallen trees and damage in hard-to-reach areas along with the excessive heat are hindering restoration efforts as crews need to remove trees, have specialized equipment to begin repair work and take frequent breaks to stay safe.”

A derecho is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms, according to the weather service. Derechos can produce destruction similar to the strength of tornadoes. Derechos are recorded about every two years in Indiana, according to weather records. About 70% of derechos happen in May, June, July and August.

Three rounds of severe weather — “thanks to an extremely favorable environment for severe storms” — caused significant damage in and around Fort Wayne from Monday afternoon through early Tuesday, the National Weather Service of Northern Indiana in Syracuse says on its website.

As of 2 a.m. Tuesday, no tornadoes have been confirmed in Fort Wayne.

The weather service at Syracuse said Tuesday morning that plans to provide information about the damage from the derecho later in the day.