Tornados, hail & heavy rain pummel SW IA


May 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Des Moines will be in southwest Iowa today, conducting a storm survey, to review areas of reported tornado damage from Wednesday afternoon’s storms. The survey crew will gather information regarding the strength and number of tornados.

The Weather Service says a tornado hit the town of Lenox, in Taylor County, at around 4;40-p.m., Wednesday. Initial reports said some of the storms may have produced multiple vortex twisters. Storm spotters also reported a tornado about two miles from

Kent, a few miles northwest of Lenox.

Media reports indicate just under 50-percent of the town sustained substantial damage and some residents who were displaced from their homes were relocated to a temporary shelter in a local apartment complex. There have been no reports of injuries. Sandi Reyner works at a restaurant in Lenox, a town of about 1,400 people. She told The Des Moines Register that — quote — “there are houses here that used to be two stories that are now less than one story.”

Lenox’s mayor, Glenn Grout said Wednesday night, about 10-15 city blocks in his community were heavily hit, while another 20 blocks sustained moderate damage. Several businesses on Main Street in Lenox lost their roofs, and trees in the city’s park were shredded. Volunteers will gather at the United Methodist Church at 103 West Michigan Street sometime today, to help with the clean-up efforts.

Tornado Watches were issued shortly before 3-p.m., for much of central and southern Iowa. National Weather Service meteorologists issued a tornado warning for north central Taylor County (including Lenox), at around 4:10-p.m., when it became clear the elements were coming together that would cause tornados to form.

Reports compiled by the weather service from spotters during and after the storms, indicated hail ranging in size from quarters to half-dollars, fell near Nodaway in Adams County, at around 2:35-p.m. About 20-minutes later, the hail was two-inches in diameter, or about the size of eggs, three-miles east of Nodaway. Flash flooding was also observed in and around Nodaway, near the Creston airport, and west of Lenox later in the evening, when rainfall approaching three-inches per hour fell on the area.

Elsewhere, winds of 60-miles per hour or more whipped through Kellerton, in Ringgold County, at around 6-p.m., and near Winterset, at about 6:30.