A tornado ripped through rural Iowa, killing two children and five adults as winds hit nearly 140 miles an hour.
The EF3 tornado – which can see up to 165mph winds – touched down in Madison County around 4.30pm on Saturday. Residents experienced high wind gusts and isolated tornadoes as the storm raged through, destroying neighborhoods and vehicles, and bringing lime-sized hail and wind gusts up to 60mph.
The names of the victims were not immediately released.
The tornado swept through Winterset first around 4.30pm as the storm headed toward Des Moines on Saturday night, causing seek-shelter-immediately warnings to be issued as gray and pink clouds filled the sky.
Giant clouds rolled over Jasper (pictured) and Madison Counties as the tornado barreled through rural Iowa, killing five adults and two children under the age of five
A utility worker walks across Highway 69 in Des Moines on Saturday attending to a broken street light
A big tree limb crushed a truck as strong winds caused massive damage. The storm was classified as a EF3, which can see winds up to 165mph
Several twisters ripped through Iowa from 4.30 to 7.30pm, taking down powerlines in its wake
A video shared by KCCI Meteorologist Chris Gloninger shows blackened skies lighting up with colorful heat lightning, highlighting a massive tornado as it ripped through Tama, off Highway 30.
The National Weather Service issued a warning to the southside of Des Moines, tweeting around 5pm: ‘Take shelter now in a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building,’ the emergency alert said. ‘If you are outdoors, in a mobile home, or in a vehicle, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris.’
Homes were torn from their foundations and cars were swept off highway 169. EMS responded to the scene shortly before 6.30pm. A cliffside was seen covered in debris with broken trees and wood. A truck was also seen buried under big tree limbs.
Winterset resident Stacie Carter told the Des Moines Register that it took her ‘over an hour’ to get hone after receiving a panicked call from her husband.
‘There were trees down all over the place,’ she said.
She said her husband and daughter barely had time to make it to the basement before the tornado raced through and the walls of their home began collapsing.
‘The wind slammed the door shut behind him.’
A woman walked outside her home that was destroyed in Winterset, Iowa. The first tornado touched down in Winterset around 4.30pm, other isolated tornado were also spotted in nearby areas
Homes were destroyed and around 10,500 residents are without power throughout rural Iowa
A structure was ripped to pieces after the storm rolled through
A building was seen destroyed after the storm in Winterset. Emergency crews were out after the storm searching for people
Another resident, Mandy Jurgensen, was shocked to see her pickup truck 50 feet from where she parked it when she ventured out after the storm.
She said she was watching TV with her boyfriend ‘when all of a sudden it got all dark outside.’ When the couple realized a tornado was headed straight toward them, they ducked to the floor.
‘It was over in half a minute,’ she told the Des Moines Register.
Shortly after, the storm hit Norwalk as it continued to travel toward the airport. Des Moines’ tornado sirens reportedly went off four times as Lucas, Decatur and Wayne were put under a warning around 5.30pm.
‘This is a life-threatening situation. Seek shelter NOW!’ the National Weather Service Des Moines tweeted.
Residents reported internet outages and power outages as the strong winds blew through. A reported 10,500 people have been affected.
Another tornado hit the ground shortly before 5.30pm in Humeston and was moving toward the Chariton area.
Multiple, isolated tornadoes were seen throughout rural Iowa as massive clouds and dark skies touched down
Blackened skies covered Gilman, Iowa, as the tornadoes destroyed several towns
One couple recalled hearing their house creek and snap as the storm moved toward them. Adam and Jenn O’Neal hunkered down in their basement as the ‘vacuum’ storm raged through.
‘It was scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. Our ears started popping, it sounded like a vacuum,’ Jenn said in an Instagram video they took after the storm. ‘We don’t have anything left except our lives and our house but I’m grateful for that, and everything else doesn’t matter.’
‘It just happened – we’re still in shock,’ Adam O’Neal said. ‘The irony is this gorgeous sunset.’ A blue-ish orange sky dotted the background of their video.
The couple’s greenhouses and barns and flower cottages were destroyed in the storm.
By 7:30pm the National Weather Service issued an all-clear for the Des Moines metropolitan area.
Several massive tornadoes hit the Northeast and Midwest this summer, including in Kentucky, where a candle factory was destroyed, killing eight and injuring several.
More than 100 Mayfield Consumer Products employees sued the company after they claim they were told they had to stay or get fire, despite the tornado.
A ‘freight train’ tornado hit New Jersey earlier this year that touched down for 12.6 miles from Harrisonville to Deptford. Tornadoes are rare in New Jersey, which usually only experiences two per year, but the state has already had 13 by the end of summer. The record number of tornadoes in a single year in New Jersey was 17 in 1989.