A powerful derecho on Thursday night ripped down trees, knocked out power, and whipped up a towering cloud of dust that blackened the skies moments before winds gusted as high as 170 km/h.
This frightful storm came to pass across the northern Plains states as an intense line of severe thunderstorms formed in Nebraska and raced northeastward through South Dakota and western Minnesota.
Thursday’s severe storms developed from the same low-pressure system that brought another round of heavy rain and thunderstorms to the eastern Prairies this week.
The U.S. Storm Prediction Center (SPC) received hundreds of reports of high winds and wind damage, including dozens of recorded wind gusts in excess of 120 km/h.
The highest reported wind gust was a whopping 172 km/h gust recorded just outside of Tripp, South Dakota, located about 100 km southwest of Sioux Falls.
Multiple tornadoes also touched down amid the storms, causing further damage across parts of eastern South Dakota.
Thursday’s severe weather outbreak across the northern Plains was a well-predicted and well-warned event.
SPC forecasters issued a moderate risk—a level 4 out of 5 on the agency’s categorical scale measuring the threat for severe storms—hours before the storms blasted through the hardest-hit areas.
WATCH: RADAR SHOWS INTENSE DERECHO SWEEPING NORTHERN U.S.
Warnings went out to residents long before the storms arrived, advising of potentially destructive wind gusts and hail the size of golf balls or larger.
The storms on Thursday night fit the definition of a derecho, a long-lived squall line that produces significant wind damage along a path measuring hundreds of kilometres long.
Derechos are common across the United States and Canada during the spring and summer months.
Not only did the storm bring picturesque clouds and ripping winds, but a dramatic dust storm developed along the leading edge of the gust front as the storms raced across the landscape. Folks across the region flooded social media with stunning photographs of the towering dust rolling beneath the ominous clouds.
Check out some of the gripping visuals from Thursday’s derecho on the American Plains, below.