ADAIR (AP) — An early morning EF2 tornado Wednesday struck a farmstead in rural west-central Iowa, damaging several buildings and killing a 74-year-old woman, authorities said.
According to KCCI-TV in Des Moines, the tornado hit around 1:30 a.m. with peak wind speeds of 120-130 mph. It traveled for almost 5 miles and destroyed a rural homestead just a couple of miles south of Interstate 80 near Adair. A damage survey team also found lesser damage to homes and buildings south of the hardest-hit area.
The Adair County Sheriff’s Office said Linda Lee Brownlee was killed during the storm. Her husband, 78-year-old Harold Brownlee, was flown to MercyOne Medical Center in Des Moines, where he remained in critical but stable condition Wednesday afternoon.
Family members said in a statement: “We greatly appreciate the thoughts and prayers from our friends and the community at this difficult time. … At this time we request privacy, as we focus our energy on our father’s recovery and the remembrance of our stepmother.”
No other injuries were immediately reported. The National Weather Service said debris from the homestead landed on Interstate 80 and a tractor-trailer ended up in a ditch.
Bob Kempf, emergency management coordinator for Adair and Guthrie counties, said there was a severe thunderstorm warning issued for the area overnight, but no tornado watch or warning was issued.
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National Weather Service officials said the tornado touched down during atypical weather conditions — temperatures were in the mid-50s — and an unusual time of day. Most severe storms develop in the afternoon. Less than 5% of tornadoes occur from midnight until 6 a.m., weather officials said.
They also said tornadoes can strike without warning.
Another tornado was spotted southeast of Anita and occurred about 25 minutes before the Adair tornado, the National Weather Service said. It demolished an old barn, tossing debris about 1/3 of a mile downstream. The remainder of the path was across a rural cropland with a total path length of just over a mile.
The last time a tornado in Iowa caused a fatality was April 27, 2014, when an intermittent tornado tracked along a 46-mile stretch from Wapello to Johnson counties, killing two people. The tornado in Adair County was the first in that county since June 1953.
Authorities said it’s a good practice to have an NOAA weather radio at all times in order to receive a warning.