Rare derecho roars from Utah to North Dakota, severe wind reports span 750 miles with gusts up to 110 mph

A powerful line of severe thunderstorms known as a derecho roared Saturday across the West, and forecasters described it as a rare event that left damage from Utah all the way to North Dakota.

The National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center (SPC) said the severe derecho produced widespread severe wind gusts over hurricane force stretching from eastern Utah.

"Pretty remarkable event!" SPC meteorologist Elizabeth Leitman tweeted Sunday.

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The SPC report compiled by Leitman showed that based on preliminary data, the derecho began in southern Utah around 9 a.m. MDT and lasted until 8:52 p.m., when it reached North Dakota.

Severe wind reports spanned at least 750 miles, from far southeast Utah to southwest North Dakota. The storm system produced severe wind reports for nearly 12 hours and tracked northeast at an average pace near 60 mph.

Dust envelopes the skyline of downtown Denver as a derecho moved through the region on Saturday, June 6, 2020.

Dust envelopes the skyline of downtown Denver as a derecho moved through the region on Saturday, June 6, 2020. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Leitman noted there were only two other derechoes in the Great Basin that are well noted.

The highest measured wind gust was 110 mph at the Winter Park ski area in Grand County, Colo. That's approaching the strength of a Category 3 hurricane.

A tree limb lays on a sedan after a storm packing high winds and rains ripped through the region Saturday, June 6, 2020, in Denver.

A tree limb lays on a sedan after a storm packing high winds and rains ripped through the region Saturday, June 6, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

In the Denver area, the storms caused damage and power outages across the region as they roared in on Saturday.

Homeowner Donna Purdy, right, thanks a tree trimmer after he checked the fallen tree that barely missed the woman's home east of Washington Park after a derecho ripped through the region on Saturday, June 6, 2020.

Homeowner Donna Purdy, right, thanks a tree trimmer after he checked the fallen tree that barely missed the woman's home east of Washington Park after a derecho ripped through the region on Saturday, June 6, 2020. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A billboard blown over by the strong winds crushed a business and several cars, and a container was also blown over onto another vehicle in Denver, FOX31 reported.

Some 79,000 customers in the Denver metro area were without power at the height of the storm.

A branch from a large tree lays on a sedan parked along Franklin Street after a storm packing high winds and rains ripped through the region Saturday, June 6, 2020, in Denver.

A branch from a large tree lays on a sedan parked along Franklin Street after a storm packing high winds and rains ripped through the region Saturday, June 6, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Video posted to Twitter also showed a tree falling on a car in Denver.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), a derecho is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms.

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"Although a derecho can produce destruction similar to that of tornadoes, the damage typically is directed in one direction along a relatively straight swath," the NSSL states. "As a result, the term 'straight-line wind damage' sometimes is used to describe derecho damage."

In order for a cluster of thunderstorms to be defined as a derecho, a wind damage swath must extend for more than 240 miles and include wind gusts of at least 58 mph, or greater, along most of its length.

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The derecho that roared across the Great Basin on Saturday came less than a week after another derecho left four people dead and thousands without power in the Northeast.

Derechos typically form east of the Rocky Mountains, which made Saturday's event so rare.

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It may have been the first in recorded history to form west of the Rockies and cross the Continental Divide, according to CBS4.