Severe storms hit Iowa City, Johnson County (2024)

Severe storms hit Iowa City, Johnson County (1)

Update (April 17): More than 1,900 residents were briefly without power Tuesday, April 16 after a strong wave of thunderstorms swept through the Iowa City and Coralville area. Intense winds knocked out power lines along North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, temporarily closing the street to traffic between Highway 6 and Park Road.

Bus service in Iowa City and Coralville was temporarily stopped during the storm as well.

University Heights recorded a top wind gust of 53 MPH Tuesday, according to the Quad Cities National Weather Service.

The City of Tiffin reported one inch of rain while Coralville and North Liberty gathered half an inch.

Severe storms hit Iowa City, Johnson County (2)

Update: Nearly 1,900 residents in Iowa City and Coralville were without power at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, according to MidAmerican Energy Company. A significant string of storms have produced a tornado warning and hail throughout Johnson County.

The tornado warning was issued for much of eastern Iowa, including Iowa City until 4:45 p.m. The previous tornado watch remains in effect until 8 p.m.

The watch includes a chance of tornados with scattered wind gusts that could reach 70 MPH. Hail up to two inches in diameter could rain down on Johnson County as well, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) in the Quad Cities.

Severe storms hit Iowa City, Johnson County (3)

4:45 p.m.: National Weather Service cancels tornado warning

The Johnson County Emergency Management announced that the National Weather Service has allowed the tornado warning to expire. A severe thunderstorm warning continues for West Liberty and Tipton through 5:15 p.m.

4:30 p.m.: Severe thunderstorm warning

A severe thunderstorm warning has been extended to 5:15 p.m. for Iowa City, as well as other Johnson County towns like Lone Tree, Solon, Hills and Morse. Linn County's severe thunderstorm warning has also been extended in Marion and Mount Vernon.

4:15 p.m.: Tornado warning in Iowa City

A tornado warning was issued for Iowa City, Mount Vernon, and Lisbon until 4:45 p.m. The rotation started near Iowa City and was moving northeast. KCRG reported on their television broadcast that a radar-indicated tornado had been spotted along Dodge Street just north of the Iowa City Community School District building near Interstate 80.

The rotation was headed toward Solon.

Iowa City and Coralville buses are now temporarily out of service.

The University of Iowa Police Department, in a social media post at 4:30 p.m., encouraged residents to take immediate shelter: "Go to the lower, innermost room of your building away from windows and assume a tornado safety position. Do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums," the post said on

Severe storms hit Iowa City, Johnson County (4)

3:55 p.m.: Severe thunderstorm warning in Iowa City

A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for much of Johnson County until 4:30 p.m., including Iowa City, North Liberty, Hills, Cedar Rapids, and Marion. The storm cell, according to the National Weather Service, could produce winds up to 60 MPH and quarter-sized hail. The storm system also has the potential to produce a tornado.

2:59 p.m.: 70 MPH wind gusts in northwest Johnson County, headed toward Marion

A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha, and Marion through 3:15 p.m. The National Weather Service said the storm cell, which has produced wind gusts of 70 MPH, extends from just south of Oxford north to Lamont.

The National Weather Service also issued a severe thunderstorm warning for much of Johnson County that expires at 3:45 p.m. The cell, which could produce 60 MPH winds and pea-sized hail, will impact Iowa City, Solon, Tipton and Mount Vernon.

When will the thunderstorms arrive?

Multiple storms will track east and northeast across the area.

Johnson County residents can expect severe thunderstorms between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. The onset of severe weather potential will persist through roughly 9 p.m.

The tornado watch includes Johnson, Linn, Benton, Chickasaw, Delaware, Fayette, Iowa, Lee, Muscatine, Washington, Buchanan, Cedar, Clayton, Des Moines, Clinton, Dubuque, Floyd, Henry, Jackson, Jones, Scott, Jefferson, Keokuk, Louisa, and Van Buren counties.

The NWS issued a tornado watch in several central Iowa counties that will remain in effect until 6 p.m.

The NWS defines a tornado as a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm to the ground, capable of destroying structures, uprooting trees and hurling objects through the air. When indicated by radar or spotted by spotters, a tornado warning is issued, prompting immediate seeking of safe shelter in the affected area, even if no tornado watch is in effect.

The NWS, suggests staying vigilant and aware of any active watches, as tornado watches can quickly turn to a warning.

How do you stay safe during a tornado?

National Weather Service said that during a tornado, you should:

  • Get as low as possible. A basem*nt below ground level or the lowest floor of a building offers the greatest safety.
  • Put as many walls between yourself and the outside as possible
  • Avoid windows at all costs.

If you live in a house with no basem*nt or an apartment building, safety tips from the National Weather Service include:

  • Avoid windows.
  • Go to the lowest floor and take shelter in a small center room, like a bathroom or closet, under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows.
  • Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands.
  • Metal bathtubs offer a shell of protection, but not plastic or fiberglass. If your bathtub is plastic or fiber glass, cover yourself with thick padding like a mattress or blankets to protect against falling debris.

What should you do if you’re driving during a tornado warning?

If you’re driving, particularly on interstates or highways, do not try to outrun a tornado.

If you are driving in an area with a tornado warning, you should look for ways to safely get off the road and out of your vehicle — preferably by seeking refuge in a sturdy building.

As a last resort, lie flat in the nearest depression, ditch or culvert and cover your head with your arms.

What’s the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?

A Tornado watch is issued when conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the area, according to NWS. They are usually issued for 4 to 8 hours and take effect several hours before storms may arrive.

However, a tornado warning is issued when a tornado is imminent. Warnings can be triggered by reports from trained weather spotters or indications on radar. When a tornado warning is issued, you should seek safe shelter immediately.

Des Moines Register reporters Victoria Reyna-Rodriguezand Kate Kealey contributed to this report.

Jessica Rish is an entertainment, dining and business reporter for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. She can be reached or on X, formerly known as Twitter, @rishjessica_

Severe storms hit Iowa City, Johnson County (2024)


What towns in Iowa were hit by tornadoes? ›

Strongest tornadoes rated EF-2

EF-2s hit Pleasant Hill, Creston, Osceola, Tingley, and rural areas of Union County near Afton and Lorimor. At least nine tornadoes hit central Iowa Friday, April 26th. Two more tornadoes were rated EF-1, packing peak winds of 105-110 mph.

What size was the tornado that hit Iowa? ›

Preliminary Storm Summary of April 26 Western and Central Iowa Tornadoes
EF RatingEF-2
Est. Peak Winds125 mph
Path Length7.69 mph
Max Width150 yds
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6 days ago

Are there tornadoes in Iowa City? ›

The tornado season for the Iowa City area is primarily April through June, but possibilities of tornados can be from March through October.

What storms happen in Iowa? ›

Severe thunderstorms visit Iowa frequently each year. On average, Iowa sees close to 50 tornadoes, tens of flash flood events, hundreds of severe thunderstorms and thousands of non-severe thunderstorms.

What part of Iowa did the tornado hit? ›

Wayne County in southern Iowa was on the receiving end of some storm damage Tuesday evening. According to the National Weather Service out of Des Moines, an EF-0 tornado swept through the northern part of Wayne County, just outside the town of Millerton.

What part of Iowa gets the most tornadoes? ›

Iowa Tornado Index City Rank
RankTornado Index ▼City / Population
1.341.99Story City, IA / 3,430
2.341.48Gilbert, IA / 1,398
3.337.09Ames, IA / 61,276
4.331.99Roland, IA / 1,463
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How many EF5 tornadoes has Iowa had? ›

Six EF5 tornadoes have occurred in Iowa in since 1950, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This is the highest rating that can be assigned to a tornado on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. The last EF5 in Iowa was in 2008 in Parkersburg, according to NOAA.

What is the thickest tornado ever recorded? ›

Tornado: Widest Tornado (maximum diameter)
Record Value4184 meters (2.6mi) in width
Date of Event31/5 (May)/2013
Length of Record1950-present
Geospatial LocationEl Reno, Oklahoma [35°31'N, 97°57'W, elevation: 414m (1358ft)]

What is the biggest tornado to ever exist? ›

This article lists various tornado records. The most "extreme" tornado in recorded history was the Tri-State tornado, which spread through parts of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana on March 18, 1925.

What was the worst tornado in Iowa? ›

Charles City - The May 15, 1968 Tornado Outbreak
Summary of Fatalities & Injuries
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Where was the worst tornado in Iowa? ›

Tornado outbreak of May 1968
An F5 tornado near Charles City, Iowa on May 15, 1968
Duration of tornado outbreak227 hours, 32 minutes
Fatalities72 fatalities, 1,203 injuries
Damage>$52.5 million
Areas affectedCentral and Southern United States
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Has Walmart ever been hit by a tornado? ›

On February 17, 2008, an F-3 tornado struck the Wal-Mart store in Prattville, Alabama. The store suffered significant damage. But no lives were lost. Here's the story of what happened… and what, fortunately, did not.

What was the worst disaster in Iowa? ›

The Great Flood of 1993 is considered by many to be one of the most defining natural disasters in Iowa history. Flooding resulted in 17 fatalities and around $2.7 billion in damage (nearly $4.5 billion in 2013 inflation-adjusted dollars).

Has a hurricane ever made it to Iowa? ›

In addition, only 2 have directly moved across Iowa and 3 have moved across Wisconsin. In Wisconsin they were the Galveston Hurricane of September 1900 (also known as Isaac's Storm) on September 10 & 11 and an unnamed hurricane of September/October 1949 on October 6 & 7.

What year was the bad ice storm in Iowa? ›

One of Iowa's most damaging ice storms occurred in late-February 2007.

Where did the tornado touchdown in Iowa? ›


Tuesday was another active Weather Alert Day across central and south-central Iowa. Storms fired up early Tuesday afternoon in far western Iowa and continued to spark severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings as they moved east. One confirmed tornado was reported near Millerton, south of Chariton.

What town has been hit by the most tornadoes? ›

The best known is probably Moore, Oklahoma, an Oklahoma City suburb. In the 122 years from 1893 to 2015, it was hit 26 times by tornadoes that included two top-of-the-scale EF5 storms. One in 1999 killed 36 people and injured nearly 600 and another in 2013 killed 24 and injured more than 200.

What towns have the most tornadoes? ›

Some of the major cities most frequently hit by tornadoes include:
  • Jackson, Mississippi.
  • Little Rock, Arkansas.
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
  • St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • Wichita, Kansas.

What is the area of the Midwest where the most tornadoes occur called? ›

Most tornadoes are found in the Great Plains of the central United States – an ideal environment for the formation of severe thunderstorms. In this area, known as Tornado Alley, storms are caused when dry cold air moving south from Canada meets warm moist air traveling north from the Gulf of Mexico.


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