Funnel Clouds Reported in Iowa Tornado Threats

For the second time in the past three days, severe thunderstorms, funnel clouds and tornadoes were reported in central, eastern and southern Iowa.

The severe storms late Sunday afternoon, which included high winds, lightning, heavy rain and hail, followed similar weather early Thursday evening.

Large storm outbreaks across Iowa can be common at this time of year, but it is unusual to have two similar severe storm events occurring only a few days apart, said Karl Jungbluth, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Johnston.

Tornado warnings were first issued just after 3 p.m. for Warren County in south central Iowa and Davis County in the southeastern part of the state.

Craig Scott, disaster coordinator in Davis County, said spotters reported three funnel clouds with one touching down in a rural area southeast of Bloomfield. No major damage was reported.

By 4 p.m., tornado warnings had been issued for Henry, Mahaska, Marion and Van Buren counties in southeast Iowa, and by 5 p.m. the warnings included Polk County and Cedar, Johnson and Muscatine counties in eastern Iowa.

Jungbluth said weather spotters in Polk County reported brief tornado touch downs east of Des Moines and northwest of the towns of Hartford and Runnells. No significant damage was reported as of 6 p.m., he said.

Pea-sized hail was reported in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale and the central Iowa town of Mitchellville. Due to heavy rain, water puddled across several highways, and drivers pulled over to the side along Interstate 80 to wait out the storms.

Donna Dubberke, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Davenport, said numerous people had reported funnel clouds in eastern Iowa and some had touched down.

In the eastern Iowa town of Washington, a storm destroyed a residential garage and peeled the roof off a furniture store.

"It started to blow, and we kept watching the wind," said Jim Rich of Washington. Rich said he looked outside about 4:45 p.m. to see lawn furniture blowing across his yard. The garage behind his home was blown down, a trailer parked behind the garage was blown about 100 feet, and three 30-foot pine trees in the yard were snapped off. Rich's home was also heavily damage

At Hanson's Home Furnishings, friends and neighbors of co-owner Roger Hanson helped him move mattresses from the building into nearby storage trailers before they were damaged by the rain.

A tornado was reported near Lone Tree, south of Iowa City, about 5 p.m. but no major damage was reported, she said.

Jungbluth said tornado season in Iowa generally starts in March and peaks in May and June in terms of reports of tornadoes.

"We can see a tornado any time the atmospheric conditions are right," he said.