At least nine possible tornadoes were spotted across Iowa Friday as storms with hail and strong winds battered the eastern portion of the state.
The National Weather Service based in the Quad Cities confirmed that one EF2 tornado touched down in Johnson County on Friday near Hillsborough. Johnson County Emergency Management Coordinator Dave Wilson said there could be up to three tornadoes that hit the county.
Previous NWS reports others show possible tornadoes spotted mostly in the southern part of the state. Here is a list of the many possibilities:
- North Agency in Wapello County
- Southeast of Fremont in Wapello County
- Southeast of Lancaster in Keokuk County
- Southwest of Faventia in Poweshiek County
- Southeast of Malcolm in Poweshiek County
- West of Talleyrand in Keokuk County
- Wellman in Washington County
- Northeast of Wellman in Washington County
Dylan Dodson, a meteorologist for the NWS in Des Moines, said these reports are based on information provided by nearby residents and still need to be confirmed through further analysis. Even more turbines not yet reported can be added.
David Cousins of NWS in the Quad Cities said the office has received damage reports from Ottumwa to Coralville and Iowa City.
“This weather system is really strong and unusual for our area in late March, early April,” Cousin said.
But the NWS said in the Quad Cities 56 storm warnings starting Friday afternoon through the evening, which it described in the usual published volume.
Dodson and Cousins said the NWS will send crews today through affected areas of the state to assess damage and further confirm the number of tornadoes.
“I think we’re going to shoot the bullet,” Johnson County’s emergency coordinator says
Sirens were sounding across Johnson County Friday, warning residents of potential tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, Wilson said. Radars have clocked winds above 70 mph and residents are shorting for potentially golf ball sized hail. Wilson believes up to three tornadoes touched down in the county.
The polluces were first seen in the western corner of the county in Frytown, and he said they came up through the western hills.
In the Hills, “a nearly six-seater span between Highway 218 and the railroad tracks” sustained significant damage, he said. The area is made up of apartment buildings, a few individual residences and commercial shelves, he said.
From there, the storm passed west of Iowa City over the city’s land and ended up in Coralville, where a portion of the four-block stretch from Route 6 to Boston was damaged, he said. Then the storm “Sulson” went to Solon Wilson, where it damaged the new substructure and lifted the roof of the local hardware store and Mexican restaurant. Wilson reported “scattering damage” across smaller towns and rural areas in his county.
Local companies helped restore power to several buildings, and the county was able to reopen all roads by midnight Friday, Wilson said.
The county helped shelter 11 individuals following the storm: Eight stayed at a Red Cross shelter at the Coralville Recreation Center, and three stayed at an off-site “special medical needs,” Wilson said. All three left for the location as of 8:30 am
Only two minor injuries were reported across the county, he said, and there were no fatalities or reports of anyone being arrested. Officers responded to 118 requests for service at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, including 14 for public assistance, six for gas breaks, five for rescue and 24 for road hazards, according to Wilson’s data.
Wilson said he spent more than two decades in agency management, and during that time he led Johnson County through floods, lawsuits and tornadoes. He just said, “I think we fired a bullet.”
“Happy or fortunate,” he said, “or one of these words are correct words.”
This story will be updated with new developments.
Francesca Block is a breaking news reporter at the Des Moines Register. Spread the word at FBlock@registermedia.com or on Twitter@francescablock3.