The Big List of Nasty Disasters: Part Seven – How to Survive a Derecho

“Hello! My name is Derecho. You killed my father. Prepare to die!”

For those who have no idea what I am talking about, this quote is a spin-off from a scene in the movie The Princes Bride. For some reason, when I was in high school this line was quoted so often, that sometimes I almost wished a Derecho would come and swoop me away.

So what is a Derecho?

A Derecho is a straight-line hurricane-force wind that packs a devastating punch of spraying rain, flash floods, and lightning from all directions. They are sneaky, deadly, and can show up with little to no warning. (No, we’re not talking about your mother in law. Shame on you!)

Up until Katrina, Derecho’s were responsible for as many deaths in the United States as hurricanes. When a Derecho struck Chicago in 2011 it left more that 860,000 people without power, and in 2012 the “North American Derecho” did the same, leaving more than 3.7 million resident in the dark.

Derechos primarily haunt the Midwest, but they also wreak havoc across the entire eastern half of the United States. They usually bring their cadre of mayhem between the months April and August, with the greatest possibility of occurrence being in the months of May, June, and July.

Derecho Areas


So what can you do to protect yourself from these nasty disasters?

Stay informed.

If you live in an area where Derechos are possible (the entire eastern half of the US), I recommend that you get a NOAA radio. It will alert you in the event of a weather warning. Look for NOAA receivers with the Public Alert and/or the NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) All Hazards logo. For more information, see the official NOAA article on NWR receiver information.

Seek shelter ASAP.

The number one reason people die in a Derecho is that they don’t find shelter in time. Therefore, if you think there is a possibility of a Derecho, put down your phone, stop texting, forget about recording and posting it to YouTube; get inside right away, and stay away from the windows! If you have a basement, go there.

Batten down the hatches. 

Sometimes meteorologists can give warning of the possibility of a Derecho. If this is the case, make sure that you bring anything that can become a flying hazard, such as lawn chairs, potted plants, the collection of swords, knives, and various other medieval weaponry that you have out on the balcony for some reason, inside. Don’t do this if there is a Derecho warning in place! Only do this if the authorities are reporting the possibility of a Derecho.

Never go out in a boat.

I don’t have to explain this, do I? No. I didn’t think so.

Prepare for power outages. 

Widespread power outages are one of the most common results of a Derecho. As the electrical system ages it becomes weaker, and the potential for failure increases. Remember, the power may be out for a while, so store plenty of backup lighting, flashlights, oil lamps, lanterns, etc. as well as some means for cooking without electricity.

Streamlight makes an incredible lantern that is well priced. See video here.

Buy Doritos and nacho cheese, in advance.

You might not be able to leave your home for a few hours, and since you probably won’t survive without Doritos — stock up now. All joking aside, make sure you have at least the FEMA recommended 72 hours of food. However, we recommend you shoot for something closer to 72 years — hey, you never know, right? Also, you might want to stock up on some MRE’s like these from the Wise Company.

Stay calm, and keep your clothes on.

On the odd chance that you somehow end up outside, in a tree or someplace like that, you will want to have your clothes on. However, when the Derecho is over, clothing is optional.

Press on my friends!

BACK TO INDEX: The Big List of Nasty Disasters and How to Prepare: Part One

  • Show Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *