Tornado damage near Winterset. (Radio Iowa file photo)

Peak tornado season in Iowa usually runs from early April through the end of June, and even though this is the final day of the season, Iowans are warned to stay vigilant.

Meteorologist Mike Fowl, at the National Weather Service in Johnston, says it was a busy season, to a degree. “The preliminary statistics that we have across the state, a very active March and April period where we had 28 tornadoes reported in those two months,” Fowl says. “Fifteen of those occurred on March 5th, that was the big outbreak that we had that included the Winterset tornado, the EF-4 that unfortunately resulted in some fatalities.”

Since April 12th, however, zero twisters have been confirmed touching down anywhere in the state — none during May or June. Still, Fowl says Iowans have to remember that tornadoes can strike at any time of day and on any day of the year.

“We can’t let our guard down,” he says. “We’ve seen a number of events that have been in the ‘offseason’ of tornadoes, so we’ve seen tornadoes in July and August, even into the fall as late as December. There really is no offseason for tornadoes in Iowa.”

While there’s a long holiday weekend ahead, Fowl urges Iowans to keep an eye on the sky and an ear to the radio. “Even this Fourth of July weekend, a lot of folks are going to be out and about, camping and outdoor activities,” Fowl says. “We do have at least a threat for some scattered strong, possibly severe storms. Just have a way to get your weather information, whether it be a weather radio, your phone, your favorite media source, just stay up with the weather.”

While tornadoes are rare during the colder months, Iowa reported a total of 61 tornadoes during the “derecho” last year on December 15th.

(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)