The experts at the National Weather Service are finished with their initial investigation of last Thursday’s flurry of destructive tornadoes that touched down in central Iowa.
Meteorologist Jeff Johnson, at the office in metro Des Moines, says it’s a preliminary total. “Thus far, we’ve counted 12 tornadoes, including the two EF-3s, one in Pella, one in Marshalltown, and an EF-2 in Bondurant,” Johnson says. “There are several other tornadoes we’re currently investigating and we’ll be assigning EF scale ratings to those as well.”
Still more tornadoes may be added to the list which does not include the two tornadoes that touched down that same day in southeast Iowa near Keosauqua. Both were EF-1s, according to an official at the Quad Cities office of the National Weather Service.
That takes the statewide total to 14 tornadoes for the day. Some media outlets reported there were 27 or 28 tornadoes statewide last Thursday, but Johnson says those reports were in error. “Quite often, we have several spotters reporting the same tornado,” Johnson says. “They’re important at the time but they’re not to be used for a final tally of tornado numbers.”
Tornadoes that reach EF-3 are very powerful, with winds up to 144 miles an hour. It’s rare to have that strong of a twister in Iowa, let alone two at once. “It does happen, it’s not unprecedented, we’ve had it happen numerous times in the past, but that’s a sizeable event for us in Iowa to have two EF-3s on the same day at the same time,” Johnson says. “The last time that happened, it’s been several years. You’d probably have to go back to 2008 and those events.”
As many as 17 people were reported hurt in the storms, and no deaths. In addition to the tornado that hit Marshalltown, two separate twisters landed in and near Pella, and two more landed in and near Bondurant. The other tornadoes are confirmed near the following towns: Ankeny, Clarion, Blairsburg, Williams, Story City, Prairie City and Monroe.