CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It was a normal Friday evening across West Virginia on June 29, 2012, with residents getting off work and getting started on another summer weekend.
The forecast called for thunderstorms after a hot and humid day, but few considered the forecast out of the ordinary.
The storm entered the state around 4 p.m. and steadily moved across West Virginia well into the evening. When it was gone, everybody knew they had experienced far more than the usual summer evening thunderstorm.
The damage was catastrophic to the state’s electrical grid. Trees were down everywhere, and power lost to 80 percent of the state. The outages were magnified by the damage done to transmission lines. The winds nearing 80 miles per hour left 750kv transmission towers in remote areas in heaps of twisted steel and mangled high voltage wire.
The damage was so complete and so widespread, power companies who normally can draw extra workers from neighboring states had to call in help from as far away as the west coast. The repairs were slow and tortured. Some West Virginia residents were out of power for nearly two weeks.
Power companies would call the 2012 derecho the most damaging storm in the history of their companies. The storm was so devastating it changed many of the procedures on how state government and the power companies respond to outages. Astonishingly, no one was killed in the storm or the aftermath.