Storms spin up tornadoes in Iowa that cause injuries, topple wind turbines

storms spin up tornadoes in iowa that cause injuries, topple wind turbines

An early-morning storm knock tree branches onto the Pacific Street sign on 42nd Street in Omaha, Neb. on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Storms that pummeled much of Nebraska with torrential rain, high winds and large hail spun up fierce tornados in Iowa Tuesday that caused extensive damage and an unknown number of injuries in at least one rural town and took down several 250-foot (76 meters) wind turbines.

Iowa State Patrol spokesman Sgt. Alex Dinkla said multiple people were injured in Greenfield, a town of about 2,000 around 55 miles (88.5 kilometers) southwest of Des Moines, and there was a lot of damage in town. He didn’t know the extent of the injuries.

storms spin up tornadoes in iowa that cause injuries, topple wind turbines

Heavy machinery clears debris washed out by flooding from nearby construction sites in Omaha, Neb. on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP)

Des Moines, Iowa, television station KCCI-TV showed at least three wind turbines that were toppled by an apparent tornado in southwest Iowa, and at least one was in flames with black smoke pluming from the bent structure.

Wind farms are built to withstand tornadoes, hurricanes and other powerful winds. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, turbines are designed shut off when winds exceed certain thresholds, typically around 55 mph (88.5 kph). They also lock and feather their blades, and turn into the wind, to minimize the strain.

storms spin up tornadoes in iowa that cause injuries, topple wind turbines

This image provided by JJ Unger, shows hail surrounding a vehicle, Monday night, May 20, 2024, in Yuma, Colo. Residents in the small city in northeastern Colorado were cleaning up Tuesday after hail the size of baseballs and golf balls pounded the community, with heavy construction equipment and snow shovels being used to clear hail that had piled up knee-deep the night before. (JJ Unger via AP)

The Adair County Health System hospital in Greenfield was damaged in the storm, but Mercy One spokesman Todd Mizener said he had no further details. The hospital is affiliated with Mercy One, and officials were on their way to Greenfield to assess the damage.

Mary Long, the owner of Long’s Market in downtown Greenfield, said she rode out the storm at her business in the community’s historic town square, which largely escaped damage. Long said there appeared to be widespread damage on the east and south sides of town.

“I could hear this roaring, like the proverbial freight train, and then it was just done,” she said.

Camille Blair said the Greenfield Chamber of Commerce office where she works closed around 2 p.m. ahead of the storm. She emerged from her home to describe widespread damage and scattered debris.

“There’s a pretty significant roof damage to several houses that I know will need whole new roofs," she said. "And I can see from my house it kind of went in a straight line down the road.”

In far southwestern Iowa, video posted to social media showed a tornado just northwest of Red Oak. Further east and north, the National Weather Service issued multiple tornado warnings for areas near the towns of Griswold, Corning, Fontanelle and Guthrie Center, among others.

storms spin up tornadoes in iowa that cause injuries, topple wind turbines

A police officer and an employee of nearby Dingman's Collision Center push a car that had been caught in flood waters in Omaha, Neb. on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 (Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP)

Iowa was already braced for severe weather after the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center gave most of the state a high chance of seeing severe thunderstorms with the potential for strong tornadoes. Des Moines public schools ended classes two hours early and canceled all evening activities ahead of the storms.

storms spin up tornadoes in iowa that cause injuries, topple wind turbines

This image taken from video provided by JJ Unger, shows hail damage to a window of vehicle, Monday night, May 20, 2024, in Yuma, Colo. Residents in the small city in northeastern Colorado were cleaning up Tuesday after hail the size of baseballs and golf balls pounded the community, with heavy construction equipment and snow shovels being used to clear hail that had piled up knee-deep the night before. (JJ Unger via AP)

Earlier in the day, residents to the west in Omaha, Nebraska, awoke to weather sirens blaring and widespread power outages as torrential rain, high winds and large hail pummeled the area. The deluge of more than 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) of rain in less than two hours flooded basements and submerged cars. Television station KETV showed firefighters arriving to rescue people from vehicles.

In Illinois, dust storms forced authorities to shut down stretches of two interstates due to low visibility. Winds gusts of between 35 mph (56 kph) and 45 mph (74 kph) hit the McLean area, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Chuck Schaffer.

storms spin up tornadoes in iowa that cause injuries, topple wind turbines

This image provided by JJ Unger, shows hail damage to the window of vehicle, Monday night, May 20, 2024, in Yuma, Colo. Residents in the small city in northeastern Colorado were cleaning up Tuesday after hail the size of baseballs and golf balls pounded the community, with heavy construction equipment and snow shovels being used to clear hail that had piled up knee-deep the night before. (JJ Unger via AP)

“There is no visibility at times,” state police posted on X, formerly Twitter.

The storms followed days of extreme weather that have ravaged much of the middle section of the country. Strong winds, large hail and tornadoes swept parts of Oklahoma and Kansas late Sunday, damaging homes and injuring two in Oklahoma.

Another round of storms Monday night raked Colorado and western Nebraska and saw the city of Yuma, Colorado, blanketed in hail the size of baseballs and golf balls, turning streets into rivers of water and ice. Front-end loaders were used to move half-foot deep (1.83 meters deep) hail Tuesday.

storms spin up tornadoes in iowa that cause injuries, topple wind turbines

Workers clean out shattered glass at the Wells Fargo building as clean up from the previous week's storm continues in downtown Houston, Monday, May 20, 2024. The city closed off streets in a six-block exclusion zone downtown, from McKinney to Polk and from Smith to Travis to ease traffic around the area where broken glass and debris are prevalent. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Last week, deadly storms hit the Houston area in Texas, killing at least seven. Those storms Thursday knocked out power to hundreds of thousands for days, leaving those Texans in the dark and without air conditioning during hot and humid weather. Hurricane-force winds reduced businesses and other structures to debris and shattered glass in downtown skyscrapers.

storms spin up tornadoes in iowa that cause injuries, topple wind turbines

Water pours out of a parking lot onto the ground in Omaha, Neb. on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP)

Tuesday's storms were expected to bring much of the same high winds, heavy rain and large hail to Minnesota and part of northern Missouri, said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service.

He said the system is expected to turn south on Wednesday, bringing more severe weather to parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and southern Missouri.

—-

Beck reported from Omaha, Nebraska. Associated Press writers Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis, Josh Funk in Omaha and Colleen Slevin in Denver contributed to this report.

Scott Mcfetridge And Margery A. Beck, The Associated Press

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