PlanetWatchers identified 1.25million acres of crop damage
From the 2020 Derecho, just 2 weeks after the event.

Extreme weather conditions are becoming more frequent as a result of climate change. Unpredictable weather is bringing thunderstorms, torrential rain and heavy wind storms.

Wind damage from hurricanes and derecho storms not only causes devastating damage to residential and commercial areas but is having a detrimental effect on agriculture.

The Midwestern states of the U.S is one of the largest producers of corn worldwide but suffers severe storms damaging millions of acres of crops each year. The high winds and violent rain and hail flatten and break the crops, so they are unfit for harvest. The extent of the damage and loss in crops means that expected yields are dramatically reduced, impacting on food supply.

The effects of storms can’t always be established straight away as farmers wait to see if crop recovery is possible and the physical task of assessment can take months to assess total damages.

On the 10th of August 2020, a Derecho storm hit the states of Iowa and Illinois in North America, causing 1.25 million acres of crop damage across 58,000 crop insurance policies and leading to months of claims adjustment.
Using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) led analysis, PlanetWatchers were able to analyze the impact of the storm providing crop damage by crop type and average age of crop at county level within 1 hour of available data.

What is a Derecho Storm?

A derecho (pronounced “deh-REY-cho”) is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms.
A derecho storm can produce destruction similar to the strength of tornadoes, however the damage typically is directed in one direction along a relatively straight swath. (‘Derecho’ is a Spanish word to mean ‘straight line’.) If the wind damage swath extends more than 240 miles (about 400 kilometers) and includes wind gusts of at least 58 mph (93 km/h) or greater along most of its length, then the event may be classified as a derecho.”

Our analysis was validated in the field and described as ‘incredibly accurate’.

Our analysis delivers 3 levels of damage: 

Severely bent, flat.

Highly bent or tangled, ear 12 inches or less from the ground.

Slightly bent or tipped, ear more than 12 inches from the ground.

Why this matters

Adjustors were still ‘in the field’ assessing Derecho damage more than 4 months after the event. We automated this process to deliver results in just 1 hour.

4 Months

The time taken to manually assess the damage caused by the Derecho.

3.5m hrs.

Man-hours to assess the damage caused by the Derecho.


The cost of manual assessment in man-hours alone.

1 hour

Time taken for us to analyse the damage caused by the Derecho.