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Iowans are cleaning up tornado wreckage as more severe weather comes through the Midwest



Des Moines, Iowa – Days after a devastating twister destroyed one tiny town, on Friday there were other reports of tornadoes in Illinois and Iowa, with storms bringing down trees and power lines.

The massive storm system moved across central Iowa and into Illinois after developing over night in Nebraska. The National Weather Service, which was also evaluating damage from three other reported twisters south of Iowa City and near Moline, Illinois, stated that a weak tornado made landfall in suburban Des Moines. There were no reported deaths or injuries.

In certain parts of Iowa, the storm also produced substantial rain; the meteorological service reports that totals there have reached as high as 8 inches (20 cm) in the past week.

In Madison, Wisconsin, a church caught fire on Friday as a rainstorm passed through the region. Two doors down from Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, Nate Moll reported hearing an audible electrical “zap zap zap” sound and then a loud crack of thunder. Firefighters put out the fire.

As a slow-moving storm passed through, a tornado touched down in Jackson County, Oklahoma, and other counties for around an hour on Thursday night, according to Ryan Bunker, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Norman, Oklahoma, office. News sources reported power outages, toppled power lines, and structural damage to certain buildings.

Over the extended Memorial Day weekend, severe weather was predicted across most of the United States, with a significant risk of tornadoes on Saturday across the Great Plains, especially in Kansas and Oklahoma. Low humidity and high winds have the potential to start wildfires in New Mexico.

“It’s really important if you have outdoor plans to make sure that you remain aware of approaching thunderstorms,” said Matt Elliott, warning coordination meteorologist with the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center.

“May is the peak time of year for tornadoes and for severe weather across the United States,” Elliott said.

The approximately 2,000 residents of Greenfield, Iowa, have been cleaning up after a powerful tornado on Tuesday when the current severe weather hit. Heavy rains, hail the size of a dime, and wind gusts of up to 75 mph (121 kph) were inflicted on a hamlet that was still in the process of recuperating after a tornado that damaged over 100 homes and struck a nearby wind farm on Friday.

According to their grandson Tom Wiggins, Dean and Pam Wiggins were among those slain.

He searched for his grandparents’ belongings on Thursday after the tornado destroyed much of their house, leaving only the foundation. “Incredibly loved by not only our family but the entire town,” he said of them.

Bill Yount was cleaning up not far away.

“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 took refuge in a cupboard during the storm.

The National Weather Service said that on Tuesday, three distinct strong tornadoes crossed Iowa, leaving behind trails that added up to 130 miles (209 kilometers).

According to Elliott of the Storm Prediction Center, Saturday’s storms may produce very significant hail in addition to tornadoes. On Sunday, there is a new chance of powerful tornadoes, huge hail, and destructive winds in several areas of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. The Mid-Atlantic region may have a few strong thunderstorms on Monday.

According to Elliott, there is a higher chance of tornadoes in May due to the interaction between warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico and strong upper-level winds in the troposphere and cold, dry air that periodically descends from Canada.