Safety Tip of the Month: Derechos – Who Knew?

The Safety Tip of the Month is provided by U.Va.'s Office of Emergency Preparedness on the 11th of every month.

July 11, 2012 — Until a derecho (pronounced "deh-REY-cho") found its way to our fair city June 29, few people had heard of them.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines a derecho as a widespread, long-lived windstorm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. While causing damage much like a tornado, a derecho's destructive winds move in a straight line, while a tornado's winds are more twisted. To be classified as a derecho, its path must extend more than 240 miles and it must produce winds of 58 mph or greater along most of its length.

Such is what happened in Virginia, leaving more than 1 million without power and 568 roads closed at the onset and causing 13 fatalities to date.

So you may wonder how one prepares for a derecho. The answer is, the same as you do for every other disaster: be informed, make a plan, build a kit. Sound familiar?

For more facts on derechos, click here.

For information, contact the Office of Emergency Preparedness at 434-982-0565 or