It's Called a Derecho...
It wasn't until recently, after 16 hours without power, that I was able to fire up the computer, check the Washington Post website and learn what hit us. A derecho (de REY cho) is a long-lived, widespread wind storm that rides along a line of thunderstorms. It's capable of tornado-like destruction, and one of its claims to fame is that it can hold itself together over hundreds of miles.
The derecho that hit us last night formed in Chicago and raced eastward, fed on the record-breaking heat (it was 104 on Friday). The wind was clocked at 80 miles an hour here last night, and the storm left three million people without power.
Like any blizzard, tornado or major weather event, this one made me realize how slender are the threads that connect us to the routine, modern life we live. We were lucky. We lost one tree and a large hunk of another, but neither hit our house or cars. Our gas stove meant I could make a cup of tea this morning, too. But with no power, little communication (phone service was disrupted), downed power lines making driving difficult, and 100 degree heat barreling down on us once again, the day took on a survivalist tone.
I sit now in the stillness after the derecho, thrilling to the sound of the refrigerator's hum.