More severe weather moves through Midwest as Iowa residents clean up tornado damage

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Several tornadoes were reported in Iowa and Illinois as storms downed power lines and trees on Friday, just after a deadly twister devastated one small town.

The large storm system began overnight in Nebraska before traveling across central Iowa and into Illinois. Strong, straight-line wind gusts of up to 80 mph (129 kph) — equivalent to a weak tornado — were recorded across Iowa, said Chad Hahn, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Des Moines. The storm also brought rain that was heavy in some areas of Iowa, where totals have reached as much as 8 inches (20 centimeters) over the last week.

At least five tornadoes were reported south of Iowa City and near Moline, Illinois, early Friday, according to meteorologist John Haase with the National Weather Service’s Quad Cities office in Davenport Iowa. No injuries had been reported.

“Emergency managers say they have some structures damaged, homes damaged, but we’re going out out take a look," Hasse said.

In Oklahoma, a tornado was on the ground for about an hour Thursday evening in Jackson County and neighboring counties as a slow-moving storm moved through, according to Ryan Bunker, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Norman, Oklahoma, office. News outlets reported downed power lines and outages and damage to some structures in the area.

Severe weather was expected throughout the long Memorial Day weekend. The National Weather Service expects storm systems in parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Iowa starting on Saturday evening and into Sunday.

The latest severe weather comes as residents of Greenfield, Iowa, a community of about 2,000 people, have been cleaning up after a strong tornado on Tuesday. The storm killed four people and injured 35 while destroying more than 100 homes. A nearby wind farm was also hit.

Among those killed were Dean and Pam Wiggins, said their grandson Tom Wiggins.

On Thursday, he tried to find any of his grandparents’ mementos that remained after the tornado demolished their home, leaving little more than its foundation. He described them as “incredibly loved by not only our family but the entire town.”

Not far away, Bill Yount was cleaning up.

“It’s like somebody took a bomb,” said Yount, gesturing to the land — covered with wood, debris, trees stripped of their leaves, heavy machinery and equipment to clean up the mess.

He waited out the storm in a closet.

“The roof raised up and slammed back down and then the windows all blew out,” he said Thursday. The tornado ripped the garage off his house and damaged interior walls. “Forty seconds changed my life immensely,” he said.

After surveying Tuesday's destruction, the National Weather Service determined that three separate powerful tornadoes carved paths totaling 130 miles (209 kilometers) across Iowa, according to Donna Dubberke, the meteorologist in charge in Des Moines.


O'Malley reported from Philadelphia. Associated Press writer Rick Callahan in Indianapolis also contributed.

Isabella O'malley And Hannah Fingerhut, The Associated Press