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Did You Know?: Weather talk
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What weather term was coined at the University of Iowa?
Derecho. (Pronounced deh-REY-cho.)
A shelf cloud along the leading edge of a derecho photographed in Minnesota.
In meteorology, a derecho is a widespread, fast-moving storm with strong, straight-line winds. (In contrast to the twirling winds of a tornado.) Derechos include wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour and create a swath of wind damage greater than 240 miles.
In 1888, University of Iowa physical science professor Gustavus Hinrichs used the term—also the Spanish word for “direct” or “straight”—to describe a storm that hit Iowa in a paper published in the American Meteorological Journal. ( Click here to see a page from Hinrichs’ paper on the website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center.)
Among his many accomplishments while affiliated with the University of Iowa, Hinrichs was one of six researchers credited with the creation of the Periodic System of Elements during the 1860s.He also established the first state weather and crop service in the United States, named the Iowa Weather Service, and served as its director from 1875 to 1889.
Learn more about Hinrichs on the website of the University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections Department: www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/archives/guides/RG99.0039.html.