Convectively generated windstorms occur over broad temporal and spatial scales; however, the more widespread and longer lived of these windstorms have been given the name “derecho.” Utilizing an integrated derecho database, including 377 events from 1986 to 2003, this investigation reveals the amount of insured property losses, fatalities, and injuries associated with these windstorms in the United States. Individual derechos have been responsible for up to 8 fatalities, 204 injuries, forest blow-downs affecting over 3,000 km2 of timber, and estimated insured losses of nearly a $500 million. Findings illustrate that derecho fatalities occur more frequently in vehicles or while boating, while injuries are more likely to happen in vehicles or mobile homes. Both fatalities and injuries are most common outside the region with the highest derecho frequency. An underlying synthesis of both physical and social vulnerabilities is suggested as the cause of the unexpected casualty distribution. In addition, casualty statistics and damage estimates from hurricanes and tornadoes are contrasted with those from derechos to emphasize that derechos can be as hazardous as many tornadoes and hurricanes.
Meteorology Program, Department of Geography, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois
Climatology Research Laboratory, Department of Geography, The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia