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The 11 Most Damaging U.S. Weather Disasters of 2012

By Amelia Hennighausen - 2013-01-03T19:15:32Z

Photograph by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo

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Derecho Storm Smashes Eastern U.S.

Severe weather brought a new word into Americans' meteorological vocabulary in summer 2012. Meteorologists define a "derecho" as a land-based storm that has wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour and causes damage along a path at least 240 miles long. Eleven states from Illinois to South Carolina and north to New Jersey were affected by a derecho in late June. Winds reached 91 miles per hour -- nearly as fast as winds in a Category Two hurricane. Twenty-eight people died in the storm.

An American beech tree lies on Capitol Hill grounds in Washington on June 30 in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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