Derecho Iowa Corn Damage Imaged By Satellite

Resposted from Dr. Roy Spencer’s Blog

September 5th, 2020 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Corn crop destroyed east of Cedar Rapids on 10 August 2020 (Matt Rogers).

The August 10, 2020 derecho event caused an estimated 40 million acres of nearly-mature corn crop to be significantly damaged or destroyed, mainly in Iowa, but also in portions of Nebraska, South Dakota, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Missouri.

I put together this NASA Terra satellite MODIS imager comparison of the area as imaged on September 2 in both 2014 (a normal crop year) and in 2020, a few weeks after the derecho struck. This date is sufficiently past the event to show areas where the crops are dead and dying. (Click on image if it doesn’t animate.)

Derecho damage to midwest corn crop as seen by the NASA Terra satellite MODIS imager on September 2, 2020 compared to the same date in 2014. (Click on image to animate).

The dashed line in Fig. 1 shows the approximate area where crop damage seems most extensive.

What Causes Derechos? How Common are They? Can they Be Predicted?

Derechos are severe thunderstorm “squall line” high wind events that are particularly widespread and long-lived, typically moving rapidly across multiple states. This video taken in Cedar Rapids shows about 25 minutes of very high winds, with occasional gusts taking out trees and tree limbs.

Derechos are particularly difficult to predict. For example, the NWS Storms Prediction Center early morning outlook (issued at 7 a.m.) for severe weather showed little indication of unusual severe storm activity prior to the August 10 event.

Fig. 2. Storms Prediction Center outlook for severe thunderstorms on 10 August 2020, issued at 7 a.m. CDT.

Once the derecho formed over eastern South Dakota and Nebraska, though, the forecast advisory was updated to reflect the high probability that it would persist and move east.

Like all severe thunderstorms, we know that derechos require an unstable air mass (usually during summertime), with some wind shear provided by an advancing cool front and upper-level trough to the west. But most of these synoptic situations do not cause derechos to form, and forecasters can’t predict one every time such conditions exist or there will be a lot of false alarms.

The following plot shows an 18 year climatology of derecho events during May-August of 1996 through 2013 from a 2016 study by Gaustini & Bosart

Fig. 3. Climatology of progressive derecho events for the warm season (May–August) of 1996–2013. The number of progressive derechos passing through a given 100 km × 100 km grid box over the 18-yr span is located at the center of the grid box and is plotted for those boxes containing at least one progressive derecho. (From Gaustini & Bosart, 2016 Monthly Weather Review ).

Note that a farmer in the corn belt will be impacted by maybe one or two derecho events per growing season, depending upon their location, although ones of the severity of the August 10 event are much more rare. Of course there is nothing a farmer can do about such events, even if they were accurately forecast.

Given the central placement of derecho activity in the corn belt, I suspect that these events are made somewhat worse by the huge moisture requirements of corn, which leads to very high dewpoints (oftentimes in the low-80s F) when the corn is actively growing and transpiring water. Any extra water vapor is extra fuel for these storms.

57 thoughts on “Derecho Iowa Corn Damage Imaged By Satellite

  1. Being that the USA accounts for 30% of world corn production it doesn’t bode well for countries that import it.

    • China will have to pay more for its corn imports, just due to the price point per supply and demand. Undoubtedly other crops like soybeans and grains suffered similar setbacks. Domestic demand will have to be met before we export any surplus, assuming there is an abundant surplus. And why wouldn’t we sell our surplus to friendly countries first, before selling to our enemy who is now very clearly China. Especially if China breaks it trade agreements and tries to throw its weight around with everything and everyone. Almost every country on the good Earth now has no respect for Chairman Xi and Red China.

      China is playing a very dangerous game bullying the world, when they rely on food imports to feed their 1.4 billion people. They are a few miscalculations away from famine and a complete melt down internally under their domestic oppressive totalitarian regime. Not to mention tens of millions of excess young males who will have no prospect of finding a Chinese wife. Sad to see China being destroyed by one madman dictator who has taken over the CCP, but is very obvious to see now.

    • All of the above and bi-color sweet corn too. No more than 300 yards from our place a 130 acres of corn field was flattened. And that doesn’t begin to describe the overall damage here. Another victim of the storm, lots of trees. Tree damage caused almost a total power outage in our town. We were lucky to have our power restored the same day, some areas of town took over a week to get the power back.

      • DERECHO CLIMATOLOGY
        https://www.spc.noaa.gov/misc/AbtDerechos/derechofacts.htm#historic
        Where and when derechos are most frequent in the United States

        Derechos in the United States are most common in the late spring and summer (May through August), with more than 75% occurring between April and August (see graph below). As might be expected, the seasonal variation of derechoes corresponds rather closely with the incidence of thunderstorms.

        The above article includes a list of derecho events.

        “The August 10, 2020 derecho event caused an estimated 40 million acres of nearly-mature corn crop to be significantly damaged or destroyed, mainly in Iowa, but also in portions of Nebraska, South Dakota, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Missouri.”

        40 million acres = 62,500 square miles = a square area 250 miles to a side! That’s a lot of lost corn!
        It would seem worthwhile to develop a means of salvaging it – maybe get arrested rioters to hand-feed the combines – give them some time to cool off in the country. 🙂

        Check out the above video of the August 2020 dericho, starting at 14:00 minutes.
        https://youtu.be/pBkPichBlt8

    • The single biggest usage is for gasohol. The second is for animal feed. Feed our automobiles hydrocarbons alone and cars and animals will both be happy.

      Heck, farmers have insurance. Using looter logic, everyone should be happy.

    • Popcorn and corn for direct human consumption are special crops, rather little is of that. Common field corn is interchangeably used for animal feed, ethanol production, and corn oil. The vast majority of the corn grown is field corn.

    • Probably the proper answer is that it is corn used for everything but Ethanol. Since CC is the biggest problem, food be damned we need Biofuels
      So…Food corn is damaged but Ethanol corn is still all intact.
      Everyone starves but food for fuel is still functioning

      Any corn for ethanol fields that were damaged will be replaced by food corn crops

  2. Is there anything ahead of these events that a dog could detect? This might seem silly but we had an experience just before an extremely bad derecho in Manitoba a few years back that has always left me wondering. It included embedded severe thunderstorms with literally soft ball sized hail that started in Dauphin Manitoba and traveled south east to well past Winnipeg. We were out camping on a bit of our farm land where we had parked an old travel trailer. We had just listened to the storm potential forecast (midrange) on radio and we were discussing whether we should break camp a day early and go home or risk a storm. Since the risk was midrange we decided stay. About an hour later one of our dogs got hysterical and began frantically barking at us and herding us towards the car, circling and dashing about in a totally uncharacteristic way. The other dog clearly thought she was nuts. However we knew she hated storms and she was so frantic we decided to leave, just in case. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough for that dog. She was literally nipping our heels as we carried stuff to the car. It was about five hours later the derecho came through and our campsite was pummelled with softball sized hail stone that punched through the roof of our old travel trailer, smashed all the windows, knocked many trees down and caused extensive damage. I don’t like to think about what might have happened if we had been there. The dog had never acted like that before and she never did again. I’ve always wondered how she could have known it was coming. If it had been a bear or something like that, the other dog would have reacted too but he was as bewildered as we were.

      • It is probably air pressure the dog is sensing.

        I have a dog that hates rain and thunderstorms and she pushes her way up underneath my legs when I’m sitting in my chair, whenever a storm is nearby. She can detect storm fronts 30 miles away sometimes.

        I would presume your dog does the same thing and becomes fearful when it senses a certain atmospheric pressure and with the derecho, the dog might have sensed a lower pressure than it was used to normally and that is what caused it to become a little panicky.

        I’m constantly amazed at how smart dogs can be. A week or so ago an elderly woman fell in her backyard and injured herself and could not get up and her dog, who was with her, ran around to the front of the house and “talked” a UPS deliveryman into following him around to the back of the house where he gave assistance to the woman. Nobody taught that dog how to do that.

    • There are some reports of fungal spores being ejected as humidity rises before an approaching storm. I’m not sure that has been fully characterized though.

      Try as I might, I can’t see carbon dioxide, but I sure as heck could smell an incoming storm where I lived, as a kid, in the Northern Pennine Hills of England.

      • philincalifornia,
        One thing you’re smelling, or tasting, is ozone. Rain storms, and thunderstorms in particular, produce lots of ozone that many people can sense. Living in the high desert Southwest since leaving the SF Bay Area, I have noticed I am much more sensitive to high humidity levels since we’re usually in the kiln-dried lumber range.
        Maybe now is a good time to renew the push for dropping corn ethanol subsidies! It doesn’t make sense to burn food as fuel especially when it requires so much fuel to produce that there is little if any net gain! I would wager the people making the most money off this scheme are the big growers and the politicos they bribe!

    • Could’ve been infra or ultra-sound. Infra-sound could have traveled thru the ground at much faster speed than thru the air.

    • It’s real simple. Dogs can smell the changes in the air, the same as you can smell a steak cooking. Your dog probably caught the scent of the incoming storm way ahead of any weather station. She may have heard noises from the storm, also.
      Occasionally, the scent of oncoming rain will blow into my area and I know enough to put the windows down.

  3. Much of Western Iowa, where the derecho winds were slightly less, is also impacted by drought. Crops that are damaged do not have moisture needed to recover. Eastern Iowa, where the winds were most severe, has had good moisture so crops that were not broken off had a better chance to recover.

  4. Right now our forecast is to go from 86F this afternoon to -3F Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. This is Laramie, Wyoming, mind you, but still there is potential for huge damage to crops and trees across this region. Our last heavy snow fall was June 9 which also damaged trees. Since autumn 2014 we have had three 4-sigma events with regard to early severely cold weather. I am uncertain what leads to the generation of such cold air before the end of summer.

    • Scissor,
      Wow! So that’s what a news program is supposed to look like! I’d send the link to my little sister in Calizuela but she wouldn’t believe any of it since it disagrees her Fake News propaganda!
      When I go to visit her I have to pointedly ask her to turn off the Boob Tube because she leaves it on every waking minute. Having cut the cable years ago I can’t stand listening to the commercials and mindless chatter that emanates from this poisoner of minds!

  5. Here is recent news related to China and more crop losses. Typhoon May Sak spun through northern China after moving through Korea. Evidently the winds were still strong enough to cause large scale damage to corn growing areas in the north of China. The combined losses in food crops this year globally is high. The cold is setting in early and somewhat strong so far in the Northern Hemisphere. That may also cause further crop losses. … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMtfn0cfSqU&list=UUT2kPBcD6tXn8TP_aV7BmgA&index=1

    • And here is the storm track for Super Typhoon Haishen just crossing souther Japan, making a direct hit on both Korea’s tomorrow, and then heading into NE China this upcoming week, pretty much a similar storm track as Typhoon Maysak last week and the week before that was Typhoon Bevi. This is going to be extremely saturated wet month in Jilin Province of NE China (all 3 NE provinces) which is one of the most important commodity grain/rice growing regions in China and it looks like a 100% agriculture loss in NE China. It is fairly rare to have any significant typhoons hitting this part of NE Asia, and now they get 3 in less than 3 weeks.

      Going to suck to be in China this upcoming year as their food stuffs suffer major catastrophic losses, and with the earlier crop losses further south, China is going to miss harvesting fully 50% of their food crops this year, and maybe more depending what more tropical storms come their way the rest of Sept.

      We need to make them beg for corn, wheat and canola, and them make them pay up front with silver and stand down in the South China Sea, return all international hostages and quit their belligerence around the world. Karma is a bitch, and now China has Typhoon Karma coming in Spades. Time for President Trump and the West to get extremely tough on China the next 3-4 months.

      https://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/western-pacific/2020/typhoon-haishen

  6. Don’t forget how biofuels mandates force fuel blenders to bid for ethanol when they want to sell motor vehicle gasoline. So the market price of ethanol, is then tied to the demand for gasoline and thus transferred to bidding for the corn to make the ethanol. I am willing to bet that it will be very difficult to get the EPA and others to waive the requirement to blend ethanol with gasoline. This will only drive corn prices higher.

  7. So how did the wind generators fare? It would be interesting seeing the production of the generation before, during and after the event. Knowing that these events are not unheard of, were these hurricanes tolerated or were they devastating to the wind power operations.

    • Like gasoline, corn has never been so cheap historically, in inflation adjusted terms. The bins are still near full from last years harvest and the SH harvest earlier this year, and we are still a land of plenty. But China is just going into harvest this fall and is expected to have total cereal and rice production fail by up to 50% countrywide due to typhoon/floods from the NE provinces to central/southern China. With 1.4 billion wanting to eat this upcoming year, is going to draw down stocks and increase prices. Build more bins…never hurts to have a surplus to tide us through any shortfall due to inclement normal weather.

  8. Wow! that’s some pretty scary wind there, snapped that pine tree off like a matchstick. Wonder what state their roofs were in.

    According to https://windexchange.energy.gov/states/ia#capacity the state of Iowa gets about 42% of it’s electricity from wind.

    They do seem to have a lot of turbines : https://eerscmap.usgs.gov/uswtdb/viewer/#7.78/42.162/-93.361

    That seems an awfully high percentage when you look at their “generation by source” data provided by the EIA here:
    https://www.eia.gov/beta/electricity/gridmonitor/expanded-view/electric_overview/US48/US48/GenerationByEnergySource-4/edit

    Interesting to see that it’s natural gas, coal and nuclear taking the load, wind looks very erratic and solar barely registering on the chart.

    • A lot of electricity is generated by wind in Iowa. It is my understanding that most of it is sold to utilities in Illinois. Illinois has a green energy requirement so they pay a premium price. Iowa has no such requirement.

      I have heard nothing about how the turbines fared in the derecho.

  9. Hmmm. Meanwhile, Glacier National Park quietly, sneakily removed and repainted its signs that said that, according to ‘computer models’ [here we go again], the glaciers would disappear by the year 2020.

    The Global Warmist kooks remind me of the Heaven’s Gate cult: always looking for TEOTWAWKI. And always being disappointed.

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