Midwest Storms Bring Possible Tornadoes to Iowa, Killing Multiple People


Damaging storms that brought punishing winds and at least one confirmed tornado to Iowa on Tuesday left multiple people dead and carved swathes of destruction through some towns, toppling wind turbines and reducing stretches of homes to wood and rubble.

The storms were the latest bout of severe weather to strike the Midwest in recent weeks. Earlier ones have killed dozens of people across multiple states, injured many more and caused widespread havoc.

On Tuesday in Iowa, multiple people died and at least a dozen were injured when a tornado pummeled Greenfield, a city of around 2,000 residents about 50 miles southwest of Des Moines, Sgt. Alex Dinkla of the Iowa State Patrol said at a news conference. Sergeant Dinkla said that officials could not yet provide a death toll because search and rescue operations were ongoing.

Video footage from Greenfield showed destroyed homes, mangled cars, snapped tree trunks and roads strewed with debris. The Adair County Health System hospital in Greenfield suffered tornado damage, and patients were transferred to other nearby hospitals, the Iowa Department of Public Safety said in a statement.

In nearby Adams County, a woman’s death was storm-related, according to Lisa Brown, the county’s medical examiner. Television footage from the county showed that three wind turbines there had been toppled. One appeared to have caught fire, releasing a large plume of smoke.

In Montgomery County, 28 homes were affected, including some that were destroyed, the county’s emergency management agency said.

Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa issued an emergency disaster proclamation in 15 counties, including Adams and Adair, allowing state resources to be used to respond to the storms.

By early Wednesday, flooding was a risk for hundreds of thousands of people in parts of Iowa, and the threat of tornadoes lingered for over 100,000 people in some parts of Wisconsin and Arizona, according to the National Weather Service. More than 200,000 customers were without power across Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, according to Poweroutage.us, a site that aggregates data from utilities across the country.

The storms began in Iowa on Tuesday morning. Pea-size hail, heavy rain and strong winds swept through Madison County, southwest of Des Moines, emergency management officials said. School districts closed early or did not hold classes at all.

At least two possible tornadoes were spotted in southwestern Iowa on Tuesday afternoon, WHO-TV of Des Moines reported. Several tornado warnings were issued in the state, including for Des Moines. The Weather Service in Des Moines said it had received numerous reports of tornado sightings on Tuesday afternoon.

At one point on Tuesday night, more than 13 million people in parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin were under tornado watches.

There have been more than 150 preliminary reports of tornadoes in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri so far this year. Most of those reports occurred before May and June, typically the peak period for tornadic weather in these states.

Christine Hauser contributed reporting.

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