Multiple People Dead as Damaging Storms Strike Iowa

Damaging storms brought punishing winds and possible tornadoes to Iowa on Tuesday afternoon, leaving multiple people dead and causing considerable destruction in the latest in a run of severe weather to have struck the Midwest in recent weeks.

Multiple people died and at least a dozen were injured in a storm that hit Greenfield, Iowa, a small city of about 2,000 residents in Adair County about 50 miles southwest of Des Moines, said Sergeant Alex Dinkla of the Iowa State Patrol at a news conference. Sergeant Dinkla said officials could not yet provide a death toll as search and rescue operation were still ongoing on Tuesday night.

Footage circulating on social media appeared to show extensive damage in a residential area of Greenfield. Video captured by a storm chaser showed a stretch of homes that had been reduced to piles of wood and rubble, and people being escorted away by emergency officials.

In nearby Adams County, a woman suffered a storm-related death, according to Lisa Brown, the county’s medical examiner.

Images shared on social media and broadcast in local television news reports showed the destruction left by reported tornadoes, including three 250-foot-tall wind turbines that toppled in Adams County, which is roughly 65 miles southwest of Des Moines. One of the structures appeared to have caught fire, releasing a large plume of smoke.

The Adair County Health System hospital in Greenfield was evacuated because of storm damage, according to Todd Mizener, a spokesman for the hospital’s affiliate, MercyOne.

Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa issued an emergency disaster proclamation in 15 counties, including Adams and Adair, allowing state resources to be used to respond to the storms. Patients at the hospital were transported to other hospitals, Sergeant Dinkla said.

A wide swath of the country, from Kansas City, Mo., to Milwaukee, was in the path of the storm activity, with the highest probability of tornadoes and damaging winds across Iowa, including Iowa City and Davenport.

Pea-size hail, heavy rains and strong winds swept through Madison County, Iowa, southwest of Des Moines, in a first round of storms on Tuesday morning, county emergency management officials said. Residents were warned to shelter from the storm, which was expected to peak between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.

School districts closed early or did not hold classes at all.

This region has been no stranger to tornadoes this year, including reports of tornadoes in the Chicago area. There have been more than 150 preliminary reports of tornadoes in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri so far this year. Most of those reports occurred before May and June, typically the peak period for tornadic weather for these states.

There was some uncertainty on Tuesday about how much the morning storms may affect the storms that are expected to form in the afternoon. The morning storms could end soon enough that the weather conditions will rebound, and there will be enough energy for damaging storms to occur during the afternoon.

The risk of severe storms will persist into the Upper Great Lakes region overnight into Wednesday morning.

Christine Hauser contributed reporting.

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