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Meteorologist explains what was different about Wednesday's derecho in Iowa

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

A meteorologist walks us through Wednesday evening's storm and the impact it had on our state.

For many, August 2020 was the first we'd heard of a "derecho." This week when the National Weather Service reported a similar storm formation — a widespread wind damage event caused by severe thunderstorms — many Iowans anticipated the worst.

In the end, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation for 43 counties affected by the storm, allowing residents to apply for aid. But as she told reporters Thursday at the state Capitol, the damage could have been "a lot worse." What made this storm different?

On this episode of River to River, meteorologist Alan Czarnetzki explains why not all Derechos are the same. Their starting conditions can inform the damage they do.

Then IPR's Kate Payne talks about her reporting on Iowans incarcerated for life without parole and the gatekeeping role the governor has in commuting their sentences. Katie Peikes of IPR, Katie Akin of Iowa Capital Dispatch and Seth Bodine of KOSU talk about their recent reporting. IPR Studio One's Tony Dehner offers up two tracks he's listening to this holiday season.


  • Alan Czarnetzki, professor of meteorology at the University of Northern Iowa
  • Kate Payne, covers eastern Iowa for IPR
  • Katie Peikes, covers agriculture for IPR
  • Katie Akin, statehouse reporter for Iowa Capital Dispatch
  • Seth Bodine, covers agriculture and rural issues for KOSU
  • Tony Dehner, host of IPR Studio One
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa