Severe weather struck the ArkLaTex early Tuesday morning. Trees and power lines were knocked down in Texarkana, Marshall, Fouke, Homer, Shreveport and Bossier. Most of the damage was along and north of I-20 and happened before 7 AM while many people were still sleeping.
The damage was caused by a weather event known as a "derecho" (pronounced der-REY-cho). Derecho is the Spanish word for "straight." Fittingly, the damage caused by derechos is primarily straight line winds. The winds are in excess of 60 mph, and will spread damage across at least 240 miles or more. While derechos are generally not rotating storms and do not necessarily create tornadoes, the damage they can cause is on the same level as EF-0, EF-1, or in some cases EF-2 tornadoes.
There were two derechos in the Southern U.S. Monday afternoon and into Tuesday morning. In addition to the derecho in the ArkLaTex, an earlier system knocked down trees and damaged buildings from Missouri, through Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama.
The fact that these storms tracked through our area during the night time hours highlights the need for early warning systems (like the Midland Weather Radio). Warnings were issued by the National Weather Service in Shreveport and passed along by the KSLA StormTracker 12 Weather Team on KSLA, KSLA.com, our KSLA iPhone, iPad and Android apps and our Facebook fan pages. But, those messages may not reach people fast asleep. Weather radios can wake you up before the storms do, giving you time to take shelter.