Fri | Feb 22, 2019

Several tornadoes hit Iowa, at least 17 injured

Published:Friday | July 20, 2018 | 10:11 AM
Damage to production plants at Vermeer Corp., a farm and construction equipment manufacturer in Pella, Iowa, is seen in an aerial view, Thursday, July 19, 2018, after a tornado went through the area. (Rodney White/The Des Moines Register via AP)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A flurry of unexpected tornadoes swept through central Iowa, injuring at least 17 people, flattening buildings in three cities and forcing the evacuation of a hospital.

Residents — and even weather forecasters — were taken by surprise Thursday as the tornadoes hit Marshalltown, Pella and Bondurant.

Ten people were injured in Marshalltown and seven at a factory near Pella, but no deaths were reported.

Alex Krull, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Des Moines, said forecasting models produced Thursday morning showed only a slight chance of strong thunderstorms later in the day.

“This morning, it didn’t look like tornadic supercells were possible,” Krull said.

“If anything, we were expecting we could get some large hail, if strong storms developed.”

Governor Kim Reynolds and other officials intend to tour Bondurant, Marshalltown and Pella on Friday to check the damage and meet with local authorities.

Marshalltown, a city of 27,000 people about 50 miles  northeast of Des Moines, appeared to have been hit the hardest.

Brick walls collapsed in the streets, roofs were blown off buildings and the cupola of the historic courthouse tumbled 175 feet to the ground.

The only hospital in Marshalltown was damaged, spokeswoman Amy Varcoe said.

All 40 of the patients at UnityPoint Health were being transferred to the health system’s larger hospital in Waterloo as well as one in Grundy Center, she said.

The emergency room in the smaller Marshalltown hospital remained open to treat patients injured in the storm, Varcoe said.

Ten people hurt in the storm had been treated, she said.

She did not know how serious those patients’ injuries were.

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