Ten years ago, a fast moving complex of severe thunderstorms brought damaging winds, large hail, tornadoes, and flooding to southern Missouri. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center called this storm, the “Super Derecho” because it was one of the most intense and unusual wind storms ever observed. The derecho produced significant and often continuous damage over a broad swath from the high plains of western Kansas to the foothills of the Appalachians in eastern Kentucky.
Every Mark Twain National Forest ranger district was affected by the derecho. There were power outages, damage to property, buildings, and recreation site facilities. Trees were down across swaths of forest land. Forest Service employees and other first responders spent the days immediately after the storm working to free campers and local residents trapped by roads obstructed by fallen trees. When aerial flights could be made, it was estimated that more than 29,000 acres of Mark Twain National Forest lands received catastrophic damage, along with thousands of acres of private and state-owned lands.
The Forest Service spent much of the last decade addressing the management challenges created by the Super Derecho. Timber blown down or damaged was salvaged through timber sale contracts and permits and sent to local mills. Fuel breaks were created along roads and on ridges as a preventative measure in the event wildfires started in areas with heavy amounts of blown down trees. Recreation facilities and trails were repaired and cleared. Still today, the effects of the Super Derecho are felt when planning and implementing projects in hard hit areas of the national forest.
To learn more about the Super Derecho of May 8, 2009, please visit NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center’s webpage at https://www.spc.noaa.gov/misc/AbtDerechos/casepages/may82009page.htm and read Denise Henderson Vaughn’s 2013 article in Forest History Today at https://foresthistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/FHT_SpringFall_2013_FULL-ISSUE.pdf.