More than 75 million people from Atlanta to Philadelphia faced the threat of severe storms Monday, days after a deadly tornado outbreak, including an EF-4 twister, killed seven people in Iowa.
Heavy rain will accompany Monday’s storms, especially across the Ohio River Valley, with the potential for rainfall rates of one to two inches per hour, she said. Flood watches have been issued for parts of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and West Virginia, and soil in the area is already saturated from heavy rain over the last two weeks.
Any additional rain will make ongoing river flooding worse, Brink said.
As these large sections of the country brace for the potential of more severe weather, recovery efforts remain ongoing in Iowa, where several tornadoes touched down near Des Moines on Saturday, killing seven people, including two children, and impacting dozens of homes.
Residents may have had less time to prepare and take shelter due to the delayed dissemination of tornado warnings issued by the local National Weather Service, including in Madison County, where Emergency Management Director Diogenes Ayala said six residents were killed.
The oldest victim was 72 years old and the youngest was aged 2, Ayala said at a news conference in Winterset on Sunday afternoon. He had earlier said there were two victims under 5.
A person in a rural area near the Lucas County city of Chariton was also killed, an official said.
The tornado in Winterset was raised to an EF-4 level—with maximum sustained winds of 170 mph—by the National Weather Service on Monday. It was on the ground for more than an hour and a half, and its path stretched almost 70 miles.
It was the first EF-4 tornado in Iowa since October 2013 and is the second-longest tornado path since 1980, behind only a 117-mile path on June 7, 1984, in southern Iowa.
Six people in Madison County were being treated for injuries sustained in the tornado, according to officials. Ayala previously said one adult had life-threatening injuries and three others had been hospitalized in serious condition.
“This is, I think, the worst anyone has seen in quite a long time,” Ayala said Sunday, telling reporters about 52 homes within a span of more than 13 miles were damaged or destroyed in Madison County.
Tornado warnings were issued in Arkansas late Sunday and early Monday. A spokesperson for the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management said there was tornado damage and multiple downed power lines near the Martin Township area, about 70 miles northwest of downtown Little Rock, with one injury reported.
A family was reported to be trapped in their storm shelter but were later able to be helped and are safe, according to the agency.
The Pope County Office of Emergency Management in northwest Arkansas asked people to avoid the area “as emergency responders and other officials work in the area to clean up and check on residents.”
At Least 2 EF3 Tornadoes Hit Iowa, NWS Says
There were just under 40 reports of tornadoes over the weekend, according to CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen. Most were reported in Iowa on Saturday, though there were others in Arkansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Indiana. In all, there were more than 200 reports of severe weather—including tornadoes, damaging winds, and hail—in more than a dozen states, Hennen said.
Tornado warnings Saturday were delayed in reaching the public—between one and nine minutes—once issued by the National Weather Service (NWS), including warnings for Madison County.
“I can confirm that warning lead time averaged 20 minutes and some of the warnings were delayed in dissemination,” Susan Buchanan, a spokesperson for the NWS, told CNN on Monday morning. The delay was first detected by Daryl Herzmann, an Iowa State University systems analyst.
As of Monday morning, NWS engineers were “still working to determine the root cause” of the delay, Buchanan said, noting the NWS used other methods of communication to disseminate information during the tornado event. The Des Moines office was live posting warnings on Twitter, she said, and it was also in touch with local news media via an instant messaging system that “remained stable.”
After the severe weather passed through, many residents began the arduous process of recovering from the damage inflicted.
In Des Moines, Shannon Brown told CNN affiliate KCCI she had just parked her Jeep at her home when the storm struck, with a tree crashing down on top of the vehicle. She was not harmed and said she was grateful for others in the community helping with cleanup efforts.
“You really realize who cares about you and just makes you feel special, you know you have all these people who are willing to help you,” she told KCCI.
Complicating the situation is a cold front moving through the state, with areas hit by tornadoes now set to experience snowfall. The southern portion of the state began receiving snow late Sunday.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation for Madison County, allowing state resources to be used for response and recovery efforts, according to a news release. Additional counties may be added to the proclamation.
The Chariton tornado is also estimated to have been an EF3 with winds of 138 mph and was on the ground for more than 16 miles, according to preliminary NWS surveys.
Other tornadoes that touched down include an EF2 with estimated winds of 122 mph near Leon, which was on the ground for 19 miles, the NWS said.
An EF1 tornado with 110 mph winds occurred in Vinton, an EF1 with 100 mph winds struck in West Lake Park and an EF-0 tornado also impacted West Lake Park with 65 mph winds, according to the NWS.
The agency said it is still conducting damage surveys across the state and is working to determine how many tornadoes occurred.