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At Least 4 Dead as Tornado 'Obliterates' Iowa Town

And another dies in nearby county amid powerful storms in the Midwest
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 22, 2024 1:00 AM CDT
Updated May 23, 2024 12:30 AM CDT
Tornado 'Obliterates' Iowa Town
The remains of a tornado-damaged wind turbine touch the ground in a field, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, near Prescott, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
UPDATE May 23, 2024 12:30 AM CDT

Four people in Greenfield, Iowa, were killed when a tornado tore through the town Tuesday afternoon, authorities confirmed Wednesday. At least 35 were injured, but the Joint Unified Command says the true number is likely higher, as that number includes just those who were treated at "designated alternate care sites," KMA Land reports. In addition, at least one other person was killed in a nearby county, CNN reports.

May 22, 2024 1:00 AM CDT

Multiple people were killed when a tornado tore through Greenfield, Iowa, and left a wide swath of obliterated homes, crumpled cars, and splintered trees, while outside the small town, massive wind turbines were buckled and twisted to the ground by the howling winds. After devastating the town of 2,000 residents, the storms moved eastward to pummel parts of Illinois and Wisconsin, knocking out power to more than 130,000 customers in the two states, the AP reports. Greenfield's hospital was among the buildings that were damaged in the town, which meant that at least a dozen people who were hurt had to be taken to facilities elsewhere, according to Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Alex Dinkla.

"Sadly we can confirm that there have been fatalities," Dinkla said at a news conference Tuesday night, without specifying how many. "We're still counting at this time." Multiple tornadoes were reported throughout Iowa, and one also apparently took down several 250-foot wind turbines in southwest Iowa. Some of the turbines caught fire, sending plumes of smoke into the air. The tornado destroyed much of Greenfield, which is located about 55 miles southwest of Des Moines, during a day that saw multiple tornadoes, giant hail, and heavy rain in several states. (The Weather Channel describes the town as "obliterated.")

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  • The storms and tornado warnings moved into Wisconsin Tuesday evening and night, including a warning for the capital, Madison.
  • Earlier in the day, residents to the west in Omaha, Nebraska, awoke to sirens blaring and widespread power outages as torrential rain, high winds, and large hail pummeled the area. The deluge flooded basements and submerged cars. Television station KETV showed firefighters rescuing people from vehicles.
  • In Illinois, dust storms led authorities to shut down stretches of two interstates due to low visibility. Wind gusts of up to 45mph hit the McLean area, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Chuck Schaffer.
  • The storms followed days of extreme weather that have ravaged much of the middle section of the country. Strong winds, large hail, and tornadoes swept parts of Oklahoma and Kansas late Sunday, damaging homes and injuring two in Oklahoma.
  • Another round of storms Monday night raked Colorado and western Nebraska and saw the city of Yuma, Colorado, blanketed in hail the size of baseballs and golf balls, turning streets into rivers of water and ice.
  • In Texas, deadly storms hit the Houston area last week, killing at least eight people.
  • Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service, said the system is expected to turn south Wednesday, bringing more severe weather to parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and southern Missouri.
(More Iowa stories.)

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