The National Weather Service has confirmed a tornado struck the northeast Iowa town of McGregor early Wednesday evening. National Weather Service meteorologist Peter Rogers says a damage assessment team from the Weather Service office in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, is in McGregor this morning.
“They have been able to determine that an EF1 tornado did go through the downtown McGregor area,” Rogers says. “That would be winds up to 110 miles per hour.”
The tornado was on the ground in McGregor at about 6:15 p.m. A spotter reported seeing a tornado near Fort Atkinson as well, but the National Weather Service has had no reports of damage related to that funnel cloud. Rogers says a line of “strong to severe” thunderstorms rolled through northeast Iowa late yesterday afternoon and during the early evening hours.
“Mainly producing wind gusts from 60-70 miles per hour — widespread 60-70 mile per hour wind gusts,” Rogers says, “and from the reports that we’ve received so far, most of the damage seems to be to trees and power lines. We do have some sporadic reports of as well as crop damage.”
Today should be dry in northeast Iowa, according to Rogers.
“This would be a good recovery day, in that sense,” Rogers says. “But we do have storm chances that return for much of tomorrow into tomorrow night and possibly into the weekend as well.”
The Clayton County Sheriff’s office posted a notice on Facebook last night, announcing “all traffic in and out of McGregor is shut down until further notice.”
At least one person was injured in Wednesday’s storms. A barn was blown down near Waukon, injuring the farmer who was inside doing chores. Sixty-seven-year-old Dennis Deal of Waukon was taken to a nearby hospital. A report on his condition is not available. The roofs in the community of Spillville were damaged, including the roof of the historic Bily Clock Museum. Mayor Mike Klimesh says downed trees blocked both main roads into Spillville for several hours last night.
“Several trees down in our city parks,” Klimesh says. “Several more trees are damaged in the boulevard.”
An extensive amoutn of wind damage has been reported in Fayette County. Lisa Roberts, Fayette County’s Emergency Management director, says there a number of trees and power lines were downed in Waucoma.
“We’ve got 25-30 houses that have some structural damage, but it’s minimal, minor,” Roberts says.
The line of damage stretches through farmland south of the community as well.
“They’ve got a four-mile path that’s got debris and a lot of damages to the crops and stuff,” Roberts says.
By midday, power had not yet been restored to about 75 percent of the community of Clermont. It’s a town of about 630 residents and officials are asking for more volunteers to help with clean up.
“We can use volunteers with gloves, rakes, chain saws to clean up these trees and get them moved,” Roberts says.
There is electricity at the Opera House in Clermont. Roberts says it’s the Opera House is now operating as a cooling center. The Red Cross is providing water at the site and the Salvation Army brought in sack lunches for residents and volunterss in Clermont.
(Additional reporting by Darin Swenson, KDEC, Swenson)