UPDATED: One dead as storms roll across Iowa with tornadoes and high winds

Muscatine power and communications outages at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and high winds rolled across Iowa Wednesday, with Muscatine under a tornado watch for much of the evening and a high wind warning lasting into early Thursday. Some damage has been reported in Muscatine County, and we’ll have updates throughout the day.

Thursday 7 a.m.
By Matt Kelly, Radio Iowa
Last night’s powerful storm spun off multiple tornadoes in Iowa, while straight line winds exceeded 80 miles an hour. There are dozens of reports of structural and tree damage — and one person is reported killed in eastern Iowa due to the strong winds.

Meteorologist Alex Krull, at the National Weather Service in metro Des Moines, says there’s storm damage in virtually all 99 Iowa counties.

“Throughout the state of Iowa, we know we have at least five tornadoes, coordinating with the other NWS offices that also cover counties in Iowa,” Krull says. “Most of the offices today are going to be sending out damage survey teams to go look at the tornadoes we have confirmed, and then also assess if any of the other damage reports we got are associated with tornadoes or straight line winds.”

The storm packed exceptionally strong winds which reportedly topped out in western Iowa with identical reports from Missouri Valley and Sidney.

“I believe 83 miles per hour is what we got from one of our ASOS (Automated Surface Observing Systems) stations, which tend to be more reliable,” Krull says. “There was a personal weather station report of 88 miles per hour out in Audubon but the reliability of those personal weather stations isn’t always the best, but it’s definitely possible that a thunderstorm could’ve produced an 88 mile an hour wind gust in west-central Iowa.”

One death is reported in eastern Iowa that’s attributed directly to the storm. The Iowa State Patrol says strong winds flipped a tractor-trailer into a ditch in Benton County, killing the driver. The name is being withheld. Krull says it appears that’s the only casualty.

“No, that is the only report that we have had so far reported to the Weather Service,” Krull says. “No other injuries or fatalities have been reported with any of the severe thunderstorms that occurred nor with any of the non-thunderstorm wind gusts that occurred overnight.”

More than 140,000 homes were without power statewide at the peak of the storm. Utilities say it may be three days before all of the power is restored.

10:55 p.m.

10:15 p.m.
In case you missed it earlier:

The National Weather Service said broken power poles were reported three miles northeast of Muscatine.

9:56 p.m.
SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE QUAD CITIES:

…VERY STRONG WINDS BEHIND LINE OF STORMS…

A LINE OF STORMS IS CURRENTLY MOVING THROUGH EASTERN IOWA AND WESTERN
ILLINOIS. THIS LINE HAS A HISTORY OF PRODUCING WIDESPREAD
DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 TO 70 MPH, AS IT MOVES RAPIDLY
EASTWARD AT 50 TO 60 MPH. BEHIND THIS LINE, VERY STRONG GRADIENT
WINDS ARE CURRENTLY BEING SEEN, GUSTING BETWEEN 60 TO 70 MPH AS
WELL, NOT ASSOCIATED WITH THE THUNDERSTORMS. THESE STRONG GRADIENT
WINDS WILL CONTINUE THROUGH A BETTER PART OF THE NIGHT.

BE PREPARED FOR THESE PROLONGED WINDS AND BE SURE TO BE IN A SAFE
PLACE. IF ON THE ROAD, CONTINUE TO TRAVEL WITH CAUTION. POWER
OUTAGES ARE VERY POSSIBLE, WHERE MANY HAVE ALREADY BEEN SEEN.

9:46 p.m.

From Muscatine County Emergency Management: Power outage 1800 block of 205th Street; tree down in Fruitland; porta-potty in roadway Grandview Ave., Hwy 61 and Cedar St stop lights not working; power outage 1400 block 121st Street.

9:45 p.m.
…HIGH WIND WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 AM CST THURSDAY…

* WHAT…Southwest winds sustained 40 to 50 mph with gusts up to
70 mph expected. Stronger gusts are possible with showers and
thunderstorms this evening.

* WHERE…Portions of east central, northeast and southeast Iowa
and northwest Illinois.

* WHEN…Through 6 AM CST Thursday.

* IMPACTS…Damaging winds will blow down trees and power lines.
Widespread power outages are expected. Travel will be
difficult, especially for high profile vehicles. Any fires
that start could spread rapidly.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…The strongest wind gusts are likely to
occur through tonight.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

People should avoid being outside in forested areas and around
trees and branches. If possible, remain in the lower levels of
your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows. Use caution if
you must drive.

9:40 p.m.
…THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR LOUISA…CEDAR AND MUSCATINE
COUNTIES WILL EXPIRE AT 945 PM CST…

THE STORMS WHICH PROMPTED THE WARNING HAVE MOVED OUT OF THE WARNED
AREA. THEREFORE, THE WARNING WILL BE ALLOWED TO EXPIRE. VERY STRONG
WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE BEHIND THE LINE OF SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS.

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1100 PM CST FOR NORTHWESTERN
ILLINOIS…AND SOUTHEASTERN AND EAST CENTRAL IOWA.

9:35 p.m.

9:33 p.m.
Tim Scott is at the KWPC studios and reports heavy rain and winds of 30 mph.

9:29 p.m.
A spotter 5 miles north of Muscatine reported a maximum gust of 46 mph so far.

9:22 p.m.
A report to the National Weather Service from a HAM radio operator in Muscatine said they were experiencing wind gusts of up to 60 mph.

9:10 p.m.
Once we see the storms move through, damaging winds will still be a problem through the overnight hours.

“As storms continue to move east, the wind threat remains but the causative factor changes from severe thunderstorms to gradient winds. The latter is covered by the High Wind Warning,” said Ray Wolf, a forecaster at the Quad Cities National Weather Service office.

9:05 p.m.
A 62 mph wind gust and tree branches down near McKee Park was reported to the National Weather Service at 8:47 p.m.

9:03 p.m.
…A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 945 PM CST
FOR LOUISA…CEDAR AND MUSCATINE COUNTIES…

AT 903 PM CST, SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE
EXTENDING FROM NEAR OLIN TO NEAR MOUNT UNION, MOVING NORTHEAST AT 55
MPH.

HAZARD…70 MPH WIND GUSTS.

SOURCE…TRAINED WEATHER SPOTTERS.

IMPACT…EXPECT CONSIDERABLE TREE DAMAGE. DAMAGE IS LIKELY TO MOBILE
HOMES, ROOFS, AND OUTBUILDINGS.

LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE…
AMBER, OAKVILLE, TOOLESBORO AND NEW BOSTON.
8:50 p.m.
MUSCOM has activated the outdoor warning sirens throughout Muscatine County due to a severe thunderstorm moving into the county that has the capability of producing winds of 70 mph.

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN THE QUAD CITIES HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR…
LOUISA COUNTY IN SOUTHEASTERN IOWA…
CEDAR COUNTY IN EAST CENTRAL IOWA…
MUSCATINE COUNTY IN EAST CENTRAL IOWA…

* UNTIL 945 PM CST.

* AT 850 PM CST, SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE
EXTENDING FROM NEAR MORLEY TO NEAR MOUNT PLEASANT, MOVING NORTHEAST
AT 65 MPH.

HAZARD…70 MPH WIND GUSTS.

SOURCE…TRAINED WEATHER SPOTTERS.

IMPACT…EXPECT CONSIDERABLE TREE DAMAGE. DAMAGE IS LIKELY TO
MOBILE HOMES, ROOFS, AND OUTBUILDINGS.

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE NEAR…
MORNING SUN AROUND 905 PM CST.
AMBER AROUND 910 PM CST.

OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE PATH OF THESE SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS INCLUDE
OAKVILLE, TOOLESBORO AND NEW BOSTON.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1100 PM CST FOR NORTHWESTERN
ILLINOIS…AND SOUTHEASTERN AND EAST CENTRAL IOWA.

FOR YOUR PROTECTION MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
STURDY BUILDING.

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1100 PM CST FOR NORTHWESTERN
ILLINOIS…AND SOUTHEASTERN AND EAST CENTRAL IOWA.

8:45 p.m.

8:30 p.m.
…A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 915 PM CST
FOR NORTHWESTERN LOUISA…SOUTHEASTERN BUCHANAN…JOHNSON…
WASHINGTON…DELAWARE AND LINN COUNTIES…

AT 830 PM CST, SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE
EXTENDING FROM NEAR EDGEWOOD TO COTTER, MOVING EAST AT 65 MPH.

HAZARD…70 MPH WIND GUSTS AND PENNY SIZE HAIL.

SOURCE…RADAR INDICATED.

IMPACT…EXPECT CONSIDERABLE TREE DAMAGE. DAMAGE IS LIKELY TO MOBILE
HOMES, ROOFS, AND OUTBUILDINGS.

LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE…
CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA CITY, WASHINGTON, MANCHESTER, COLUMBUS JUNCTION,
MARION, CORALVILLE, NORTH LIBERTY, HIAWATHA, MOUNT VERNON, ROBINS,
CENTER POINT, KALONA, LISBON, FAIRFAX, SOLON, TIFFIN, ELY, WALFORD
AND WELLMAN.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1100 PM CST FOR SOUTHEASTERN,
NORTHEASTERN AND EAST CENTRAL IOWA.

FOR YOUR PROTECTION MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
STURDY BUILDING.

8:15 p.m.

7:40 p.m.

7:30 p.m.

6:10 p.m.

5:30 p.m.

The NWS Storm Prediction Center has issued a

* Tornado Watch for portions of
Eastern Iowa
Northwest Illinois
Southeast Minnesota
Northeast Missouri
Western and Central Wisconsin

* Effective this Wednesday afternoon and evening from 530 PM
until 1100 PM CST.

* Primary threats include…
Several tornadoes likely with a couple intense tornadoes
possible
Widespread damaging winds and scattered significant gusts to 90
mph expected

SUMMARY…A line of thunderstorms over western Iowa is racing
east-northeastward at 60-70mph, producing widespread and significant
wind damage. Several embedded tornadoes have also being reported.
These storms will persist through the evening and affect the watch
area.

The tornado watch area is approximately along and 80 statute miles
east and west of a line from 50 miles north of Eau Claire WI to 40
miles south southwest of Moline IL. For a complete depiction of the
watch see the associated watch outline update (WOUS64 KWNS WOU5).

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

REMEMBER…A Tornado Watch means conditions are favorable for
tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch
area. Persons in these areas should be on the lookout for
threatening weather conditions and listen for later statements
and possible warnings.

5:15 p.m.

4:28 p.m.
From the Quad Cities National Weather Service office:

…SEVERE WEATHER LIKELY THIS EVENING…

A LINE OF STORMS IS CURRENTLY MOVING INTO WESTERN IOWA, EASTERN KANSAS AND NORTHWEST MISSOURI. THIS LINE HAS HAD A HISTORY OF PRODUCING WIDESPREAD DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 70 TO 90 MPH, AS IT MOVES RAPIDLY EASTWARD AT 55 TO 65 MPH. AT THIS MOVEMENT, THIS LINE OF STORMS IS EXPECTED TO IMPACT EASTERN IOWA, NORTHEAST MISSOURI AND NORTHWEST AND WEST CENTRAL ILLINOIS BETWEEN 7 PM AND 11 PM CST.

THESE STORMS ARE EXPECTED TO BE SEVERE AS THEY MOVE THROUGH PRODUCING DAMAGING WINDS OF 70 MPH TO POTENTIALLY 90 MPH. A TORNADO CANNOT BE RULED OUT AS WELL.

THE EXTREMELY FAST MOVEMENT OF THIS LINE OF STORMS WILL OFFER MUCH SHORTER TIME TO REACT. SO, BE PREPARED NOW! MAKE SURE YOU HAVE MULTIPLE WAYS TO RECEIVING WATCH AND WARNING INFORMATION. IF A WARNING IS ISSUED SEEK SHELTER IN A STURDY INTERIOR ROOM OR BASEMENT.

4:10 p.m.

2 p.m.
From the Iowa Department of Transportation:

Due to high winds, oversize/overweight permitted vehicles are restricted from traveling in Iowa effective 12pm today (12/15) until 7am on Thursday (12/16). We encourage Motor Carriers to plan ahead and find safe parking in advance of the storm. Monitor the Restrictions layer on 511ia.org for current commercial vehicle restrictions.

1:45 p.m.
Louisa-Muscatine Community Schools will not have after-school care (Busy Hands), all afternoon activities and practices have been canceled, and all buildings will be closed.

1:30 p.m.
A Tornado Watch has been issued for portions of western and central Iowa until 8 p.m.

More from the Storm Prediction Center:

A developing squall line will move rapidly northeastward from northern Kansas and Nebraska across Iowa and adjacent areas of Minnesota and Missouri through this evening. Widespread damaging winds are expected, with peak gusts near 90 mph possible. A mix of embedded supercells and smaller-scale circulations in the line will also pose a threat for tornadoes, with a strong tornado or two possible.

A Tornado Watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. Persons in these areas should be on the lookout for threatening weather conditions and listen for later statements and possible warnings.

1:20 p.m.
Latest wind reports from the National Weather Service office in Des Moines:

1 p.m.

The Quad Cities office of the National Weather Service says strong winds out of the southwest may gust to 65 MPH at times during this period, which will lead to driving difficulties, objects being blown around and power outages. Winds could gust even stronger in a narrow line of storms this evening.

“Please pay attention tonight. We will be ready for any events shall our area take a significant hit, but be prepared,” said City of Muscatine Fire Department Batallion Chief Gary Ronzheimer.

“Get your lawn ornaments, Santas and reindeer secured, don’t want the neighbors to get their presents early. Pay attention to the weather tonight, use your emergency weather radio tonight, get it out and dusted off,” said Ronzheimer.

The possibility of a “derecho” forming with this evening’s weather has been mentioned today, but it is less likely there could be a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms.

“Yes, we do expect winds could possibly be in excess of 80 mph with the showers and storms. These storms are not to be taken lightly,” said Alexander Gibbs, a forecaster at NWS Quad Cities.

“What makes this different than the 2020 derecho is the winds will not be as extreme or last as long. However this is still a rare, dangerous situation and any warnings should be taken seriously,” Gibbs said.

The Storm Prediction Center is forecasting a Moderate Risk for severe storms over much of Iowa, with an Enhanced Risk extending into northeastern Iowa, and a Slight and Marginal Risk farther east.

Storms this evening are expected along a cold front, which will bring very strong winds, even if storms are not happening.

However, in the vicinity of storms, higher winds, possibly over 70 mph are possible, with a low risk for a tornado as well.

Be on the lookout and be ready to take shelter this evening as these storms approach, and in general, be aware that high winds are likely through the entire area regardless of the storms.

“We don’t see these warnings very often, I think anywhere from five to seven times over the last 20 to 30 years have we seen those types of warnings,” State Climatologist Justin Glisan told Radio Iowa.

Wednesday will be very warm and windy over the area with high temperatures forecast to reach the 60s to around 70. This would be well above record high temperatures for the date at Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque and Moline.

Temperatures may set records, as highs in the 60s and 70s are in the forecast.

“December’s statewide record high in 74 degrees and seeing some of these 70, 72, 73 degree possibilities,” Glisan says, “it’s going to be a very warm and windy day tomorrow.”

Winds will pick up from the southwest to 25 to 35 mph with gusts near 60 mph possible in the afternoon through overnight. Driving, particularly on highways that run east to west, will be difficult in those conditions.

“If you don’t have to travel, it might be better not to travel, but if you do, keep both hands on the wheel and stay vigilant as you drive,” Glisan says.

“We’re going to have strong winds that are not associated with thunderstorms start in the afternoon, but then we have a line of possible stronger to severe thunderstorms that will come through during the evening hours,” Gilsan said.

Trees weakened by last year’s derecho may be vulnerable.

“Perhaps the silver lining is there are not a lot of leaves on the trees anymore. The folage has dropped. Those leaves act like sails or nets for that wind to grab onto and you get more swaying of trees, so luckily less leaves on the trees, perhaps that may prevent more damage from these higher wind gusts that are forecasted.”

As for more violent weather — like a tornado — Glisans says the winds are expected to change directions tomorrow.

“That produces rotation in the atmosphere,” Glisan says, “but we’re having such strong winds through the atmospheric column that we’re not exactly sure whether that’s too much wind shear and that would prevent those tornadoes from happening.”

National Weather Service forecast for Muscatine, as of Wednesday 10 a.m.:
High Wind Warning in effect, Wednesday 3 p.m. to Thursday 6 a.m. CST

Today
Mostly cloudy, with a high near 72. Breezy, with a south wind 20 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 45 mph.
Tonight
Showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 10pm. Low around 34. Windy, with a southwest wind 30 to 35 mph becoming west 20 to 25 mph. Winds could gust as high as 60 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
Thursday
Sunny, with a high near 45. Breezy, with a west wind 15 to 20 mph decreasing to 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph.
Thursday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 26. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm.
Friday
Partly sunny, with a high near 41.
Friday Night
Mostly cloudy, with a low around 24.
Saturday
Mostly sunny, with a high near 33.
Saturday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 16.
Sunday
Sunny, with a high near 37.
Sunday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 26.
Monday
Sunny, with a high near 42.
Monday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 20.
Tuesday
Mostly sunny, with a high near 36.

 

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