State climatologist Harry Hillaker says 2001 will be a record year for tornadoes in Iowa.There were 86 tornadoes in the first seven months of 2001 — easily breaking the record of 72 twisters in 1998. Hillaker says the number of tornadoes, however, doesn’t translate into severe damage. He says only five of the storms were categorized as being strong.Tornadoes are classified on a scale of F-1 to F-5 — five being the strongest. The biggest of all was an F-3 on April 11th that crossed several counties, that didn’t cause any deaths, but lots of damage. Another weaker tornado on the same day did cause a death in Agency. Hillaker says you can’t blame climatic events like El Ninofor the record.He says Iowa was in the wrong place at the wrong time. There were 28 tornadoes on April 11th, 10 on May 10th and another 10 twisters on June 1st. Hillaker says there could have been worse years before 1993, when detection methods improved because of new radar.Iowa weather-watchers started keeping tornado records in the 1860s.
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