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1m without power after violent storm rips US midwest

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More than a million homes and businesses are without power across the US Midwest after a wall of thunder, hail and deadly winds ripped through Chicago and elsewhere, tearing apart trees and homes.

[WASHINGTON] More than a million homes and businesses are without power across the US Midwest after a wall of thunder, hail and deadly winds ripped through Chicago and elsewhere, tearing apart trees and homes.The line of storms, 260 kilometers wide, cut a path of destruction across Iowa, Illinois and Indiana Monday. Wind gusts of 100 mph and more were clocked across Iowa.

Most of the outages are in Iowa and Illinois, including about 280,000 in Chicago and its suburbs, according to Exelon's Commonwealth Edison. They come on the heels of Tropical Storm Isaias knocking out power to more than 2 million customers on the East Coast, leaving some without power for a week.

The storm almost certainly meets the definition of a powerful variety of storm known as a derecho, said Rick Otto, a forecaster at the US Weather Prediction Centre in College Park, Maryland.

Derechos are characterised by their large size and capacity for destruction. They can scour a landscape with damaging hail, dangerous wind gusts capable of throwing two-by-fours through walls, and even tornadoes. In all likelihood, anyone in the path of the storm will suffer its effects for 30 minutes or longer, the weather service said. In recent years, hail has caused from US$8 billion to US$14 billion a year in insured losses, according to Aon.

The storm got its start from thunderstorms and instability in the atmosphere across South Dakota and Nebraska earlier Monday, and then it picked up strength and began ripping its way through Iowa. In addition to Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin also faced a threat of golf-ball-sized hail, deadly winds and thunderstorms.

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