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Railroads avoid disaster during dangerous derecho thanks to SkyGuard


AccuWeather For Business clients provided accurate and actionable warnings for winds up to 100 mph, 30-60 minutes before the Iowa derecho hit

Key Highlights

A small line of thunderstorms in Eastern Nebraska quickly developed into a menacing derecho

Other sources were forecasting only 13 mph winds at the time the 100 mph winds hit

Widespread winds from the derecho are estimated to have caused $11.2B in damages

What is a derecho?

The term "derecho" refers to a dangerous type of thunderstorm complex that travels along a path of at least 240 miles, according to the Storm Prediction Center (SPC). These violent severe thunderstorm clusters produce widespread and long-lived, straight-line wind damage. Derechos are often referred to as inland hurricanes due to the hurricane-like conditions, in terms of ferocious wind and torrential rain, which are spawned by this weather phenomenon.


A storm for the record books

On Monday, August 10, 2020, what started as a small line of thunderstorms across Eastern Nebraska quickly developed into a menacing “derecho” – a rare complex of thunderstorms that persists over several hundred miles and produces widespread, dangerous and damaging wind gusts. The derecho rocketed across Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and southwest Michigan leaving a trail of destruction and injuries in its wake.

What didn't happen

Train derailments and all associated hazards and risks – crew member injuries, tens of millions of dollars to rail equipment, hazardous materials spills were prevented, and it wasn’t by chance. It was because multiple Class I railroads in the storm’s devastating path were prepared thanks to AccuWeather For Business, who provided rail clients advance notice of the risk for unusually high, damaging winds up to 100 mph.

Hours before the event unfolded, AccuWeather clients were warned of the quickly developing threat with special forecast maps. They were able to track the storm live on the SkyGuard Portal and Mobile companion app. As the storm got closer to valuable assets, clients received 30-60 minutes of advance notice with specially crafted warnings generated by expert meteorologists highlighting “wind gusts up to 100 mph.” Trains were stopped. Crews remained safe.

This example is just one of many that occur each day showcasing the proven Superior Accuracy™ that AccuWeather delivers to clients. Only AccuWeather provides pinpoint, highly-accurate warnings with expertise developed from partnering with railroads for decades.


Benefits of working with industry experts

This high impact fast-moving event highlights the difference between automated, model derived solutions vs. having a team of meteorologists watching out for your business and assets. Relying on automated data tools would have been disastrous. But when you have a team of experts watching the weather on your network for you every second of every day, as AccuWeather does, adjustments can be made quickly and to your benefit.

It’s no secret that every Class I railroad in North America partners with AccuWeather For Business – and for good reason! AccuWeather’s SkyGuard warning service provides the most accurate and actionable weather insights ensuring railroads can anticipate and mitigate the impact of weather on their operations. These services enhance safety, minimize risk and optimize network performance, among many additional benefits railroads have enjoyed for decades by partnering with AccuWeather.

The difference is clear

When life safety and business continuity are on the line, AccuWeather For Business provides a team of expert meteorologists watching your network 24/7 to ensure your employees are safe and negative impacts on your network are mitigated.

The choice is clear. AccuWeather delivers for railroads.

Partner with us to weather the storm

When weather challenges your team to make rapid decisions, depend on SkyGuard® forecasts and warnings to provide you the information necessary to make the best decisions that protect your people and avoid costly shutdowns. Start a two-week trial today.