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Fierce Derecho Storm Threatens Eastern US

The storms will move so fast that “by the time you see the dark sky and distant thunder you may have only minutes to get to safe shelter,” said Bill Bunting of the NWS.

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Fierce Derecho Storm Threatens Eastern US



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Forecasters in the Eastern US are bracing for a string of unusually violent and potentially deadly storms is expected to strike the upper Midwest and travel east toward Washington DC.

The severe weather set to move in later on Wednesday was expected to pack strong thunderstorms, tornadoes and winds raging up to 100mph, according to the National Weather Service.

It could hit Chicago at the peak of the evening commute, forecasters said.

The storms could develop into a “derecho” – the type of weather system that walloped the Eastern US in June 2012, knocking out power to 4 million people, killing 13 and causing $1bn in damage.

Derechos by definition carry harsh, straight-line winds above 58mph and stretch for more than 240 miles. They are also likely to knock out power, and are usually followed by oppressive heat.

The word is Spanish for “straight ahead” or “direct.”

“We’re becoming increasingly concerned that a major severe weather event will unfold,” said Russell Schneider, director of the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

“The main thing is for folks to monitor conditions and have a plan for what to do if threatening weather approaches.”

The center has enacted its highest alert levels for parts of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

The total area under heightened risk of dangerous weather encompasses 19 states and is home to nearly 75 million people.

Jeff Masters, meteorology director at Weather Underground, said Wednesday “might be the worst severe weather outbreak for this part of the country for the year.”

Residents in vulnerable areas were being told to stay away from windows.

The storms will move so fast that “by the time you see the dark sky and distant thunder you may have only minutes to get to safe shelter,” said Bill Bunting of the NWS.

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Contributed by Sky News US of Sky.com.

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