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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Multiple people dead after intense Iowa tornadoes leave widespread damage

Locator map of Greenfield, Iowa  (Staff)
By Jason Samenow, Matthew Cappucci and Kelsey Ables Washington Post

After a set of damaging tornadoes swept through southwestern portions of Iowa, killing multiple people, communities were surveying the destruction Wednesday.

The town of Greenfield took a direct hit from one particularly violent twister, which sent debris 40,000 feet into the air, according to radar estimates. Homes crumbled, others were lifted from their foundations, cars were flipped and trees were shredded.

The storms came just weeks after tornadoes tore through numerous other Iowa communities.

“It’s hard to believe that it’s happened again,” said Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) in a statement. She plans to visit Greenfield on Wednesday morning to assess the damage.

“Sadly, we can confirm there were fatalities and injuries within the community of Greenfield from this tornado,” state police said in a statement Tuesday evening. There was no further information about the number of fatalities.

In addition to hitting Greenfield, Tuesday’s twisters also struck near the towns of Red Oak, Villisca, Brooks, Carbon and Corning. At least 20 tornadoes were reported Tuesday, largely in southwest Iowa. More may be confirmed across Minnesota and Wisconsin in the days ahead.

One woman died after being ejected from a vehicle during the storm near Corning in Adams County, about 70 miles southwest of Des Moines, according to Lisa Brown, the county medical examiner. Storm-chaser video from the area showed wind turbines flattened as the twisters swept by.

Drone footage captured by storm chaser Reed Timmer from the tornado in Greenfield, about 50 miles from Des Moines, showed a violently spinning, massive funnel with smaller vortexes embedded within the primary twister’s circulation. The Weather Service issued a warning for the twister 46 minutes before it touched down, giving residents time to shelter.

After wreaking havoc in southwest Iowa, the storms raced through the state’s central and eastern regions, northern Missouri, southern Minnesota and western and central Wisconsin, prompting dozens of severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings.

Tornado watches stretched from northeast Oklahoma into southern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin well into Tuesday night.