Deadly tornado devastates Iowa town as severe weather moves south


Central Iowa was reeling Wednesday morning after what police described as a “devastating” tornado laid waste to rural communities and killed an unknown number of people.

Iowa State Police confirmed a number of people had died Tuesday in the town of Greenfield, a community of about 2,000 people 40 miles southwest of Des Moines.

There were 18 tornado warnings across Iowa on Tuesday, as well as one each in Wisconsin and Minnesota, adding to an already exceptionally busy tornado season.

Sgt. Alex Dinkla said at a news conference that at least 12 people were treated in hospitals — although the town’s Adair County Memorial Hospital was also damaged, forcing first responders to take victims to facilities elsewhere.

The severe weather is expected to move away from the Midwest and toward the southern Plains and the Mississippi Valley on Wednesday, the National Weather Service said, with large hail, wind damage and tornadoes likely across Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

In total, some 44 million people will face the risk of severe weather in a huge swath of the U.S. from Texas to upstate New York. There are flood watches in place for 8 million people, including the Dallas metro area, which could get more than 3 inches of rain this afternoon and into the evening.

The risk continues into Thursday for some 20 million people, from Memphis to New England.

Aerial footage from Greenfield, shot late Tuesday, showed entire streets that were in the path of the tornado turned to wreckage, with piles of debris among broken trees and demolished cars.

Deadly tornado obliterates Iowa town as severe weather moves south
Tornado damage in Greenfield, Iowa, on Tuesday.Charlie Neibergall / AP

A man in nearby Red Oak, Montgomery County, captured footage of an enormous funnel cloud moving through the area as sirens wailed and intense rain fell.

The Montgomery County Emergency Management said in a statement that multiple confirmed tornadoes damaged at least 28 homes, with the damage ranging from “affected to destroyed.”

Wind turbines were left in ruin near Prescott, Iowa. And the wind was strong enough near the town of Nevada, Iowa, to topple a semitruck which had stopped on a highway because of the extreme conditions. There has been no report of related casualties.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds declared a disaster in 15 counties and was due to visit the area Wednesday.

Deadly tornado obliterates Iowa town as severe weather moves south.
The remains of a tornado-damaged wind turbine near Prescott, Iowa, on Tuesday.Charlie Neibergall / AP

The situation is so severe in Iowa that the weather service said it would deploy three teams from its Des Moines office to survey the tornado damage, with the results expected Wednesday night.

Elsewhere, in Colorado large hailstones stripped the cladding from buildings and shattered car windows — NBC affiliate KUSA of Denver reported that the hail was at times the size of a baseball.

In Omaha, Nebraska, cars were swept away by raging floodwaters caused by between 4 and 8 inches of rain, leaving some stranded.

Deadly tornado obliterates Iowa town as severe weather moves south
A damaged car in Greenfield, Iowa, on Tuesday. Charlie Neibergall / AP

NBC affiliate WOWT of Omaha spoke to Mike Troy, a local man and school football coach, whose home was on a newly created island. The water was not considered deep enough to justify a rescue, he said.

More than 70,000 energy customers were still without power in Texas after a torrid few days of severe weather as of 6 a.m. ET, according to the energy connection tracker, while 67,000 were also without power in Wisconsin.


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