Eastern Iowa Tornadoes – May 25, 2008

May 25, 2008 was an active day for severe weather across eastern Iowa, with six tornadoes being confirmed across the KWWL viewing area.  Of note was the EF-5 tornado impacting Parkersburg, New Hartford and Dunkerton with estimated peak wind speeds up to 205 mph(to watch our special report “Tornado Turnaround”, click here), and the EF-3 tornado near Fairbank and Hazleton, with peak wind speeds up to 160 mph.

There was also an EF-1 tornado south of Lamont in Buchanan County, as well as an EF-1 south of Petersburg in Dubuque County.  Another EF-1 touched down near Interstate 80 in western Iowa County, fortunately not impacting many people.  And finally, an EF-0 was reported north of North Liberty.  To read the full assessments from the NWS Quad Cities, click here.

  1.  The tornado touched down 2 miles south of Aplington, before growing to 3/4 of a mile wide as it moved to the south side of Parkersburg.  300 homes and businesses were destroyed.  Seven people were killed, with many others injured.  From there, the tornado went down Highway 57 and tore through the northern part of New Hartford, where it killed two people, and damaged and destroyed many homes.  The Sinclair Elevator and the Oak Hill Cemetery took a direct hit.  Read the full assessment from NWS Des Moines here.
  2. The EF-2 tornado in Buchanan County touched down near Fairbank.  The tornado was 0.7 miles wide and was on the ground for 32.4 miles.  Three homes were destroyed, with many others damaged, along with several downed trees and power lines.  On the south side of Hazleton, many mobile homes were destroyed.  Three people were injured
  3. EF-1 tornado south of Lemont was about 100 yards wide with an estimated peak wind speed of 90 mph, and was on the ground for 2 miles.  There were many outbuildings and trees that were damaged.  No injuries or deaths were reported.
  4. An EF-1 was confirmed south of Petersburg in Delaware county.  The tornado was 250 yards wide with estimated wind speeds of 90 mph, and was on the ground for 7.75 miles.  Trees and outbuildings were damaged, along with more than 1,000 trees destroyed in New Wine Park.  No injuries/deaths were reported.
  5. An EF-0 was reported north of North Liberty in Johnson County. Estimated wind speeds were 85 mph, and it was 100 yards wide with a path of 0.1 miles.  Many trees were uprooted, and several homes were damaged.
  6. And EF-1 tornado was reported near Interstate 80 in Iowa County.  Estimated wind speeds were 90 mph, and it was 250 yard wide and was on the ground for 6 miles.  No injuries or fatalities were reported.  A grain bin near Victor was blown over, and a tree fell on a mobile home.  Many machine sheds were also damaged.

Here is a full list of the storm reports, mesoscale discussion, watches and outlooks for the nation that day.


The Enhanced Fujita scale is used to estimate wind speed based on the damage from the tornado.  They are not measured wind speeds.



Posted under Severe Weather, Weather History

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on May 25, 2018

Tags: , , , , , ,

F Scale vs EF Scale

This month we are highlighting some memorable weather events in eastern Iowa. Namely, we are remembering May tornadoes that made a lasting impact in some of our communities. However, what do you know of the way tornadoes are rated?

Half a century ago this month, an F5 tornado tracked through Charles City. It was one of two F5 tornadoes that day in eastern Iowa. The other tracked through the Oelwein and Maynard areas.

A little more recently – actually 10 years ago this month – an EF5 tornado tracked through Parkersburg, New Hartford and the surrounding areas.

The difference between these two rankings – F5 and EF5 – is time.

The EF, or Enhanced Fujita scale, went into operation in 2007. This is the scale currently used by meteorologists. Previously, the F, or Fujita scale, was used to rank tornado damage intensity. Click here to find the parameters used for the F and EF scale.

Regardless of which scale was used, the three tornadoes listed above were among the strongest and most destructive in Iowa history. Even EF0 or EF1 tornadoes can cause extensive damage. In 2017, an EF1 struck McGregor in Clayton County. You can read more on that tornado here. In fact, most of the tornadoes in 2017 were ranked EF0 or EF1. For more information on the 2017 tornado climatology, click here.


Posted under Severe Weather, Weather History

This post was written by Rachael Peart on May 16, 2018

May 7, 1964 Waterloo Tornado

On this day in 1964, a tornado moved through Waterloo injuring 27 people. The tornado was rated and F-2

Below is the information from the National Weather Service in Des Moines. Click on the text to enlarge.

The map below shows the path of the storm as it traveled southeast dissipating near Raymond. Click map to enlarge.

The information below is the specifics from the F-2 tornado in Waterloo from Storm Events Database.

The chart below shows there were other tornadoes that day and damaging wind storms. Looks like it a wild and scary day.


Posted under Severe Weather, Weather History

This post was written by Schnack on May 7, 2018

Record Snow Depth

The highest official snow depth recorded in Iowa was 42″. It was reported in Sioux Center February 20-22, 1936.


Posted under Weather History

This post was written by Schnack on February 21, 2018

Snowy February, So Far

You don’t need us to tell you that the month has been off to a wintry start.  In Waterloo, we’ve seen at least a trace of snow over the last 10 days (Feb. 2-11). However, we’ve only had 7 of those days with measurable snow (more than a 0.1″).

Looking back at records for the most consecutive days with measurable snow for Waterloo, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, we found some interesting facts.  Cedar Rapids has had 9 consecutive days with measurable snow this month, which is the all time record.  Dubuque also had 9 days, which is the longest streak, ever, at the airport.  Waterloo was the 4th longest streak, and Iowa City (based on the data we could find) did not make the top 10.

We certainly have been playing catch-up in the snowfall department this season.  With the recent snow, we are within a couple inches above and below average across the “Big 4.”  We’re also ahead in most areas this year, compared to last winter (which was a down year, to the date, as well).


Posted under Weather History, Winter Weather

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on February 11, 2018

Flashback: Groundhog Day Blizzard

Today marks the 7 year anniversary of the 2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard, which brought a foot or more of snow to portions of eastern Iowa, as well as gusty winds 40-50 mph.  Blizzard Warnings extended from Michigan to Oklahoma.

Here’s a look at the snowfall across the region:

The heaviest band of snow fell in portions of Missouri, far eastern Iowa, and northern Illinois.  The wind caused snow drifts of 2 to 5 feet, with some drifts as high as 10 feet.  The storm caused major travel issues, closing many roads.

Here are the surface weather maps from February 1st, and February 2nd.  Low pressure strengthened in Texas and tracked northeast through Illinois, into Indiana and Ohio.  The heaviest snow fell on the northwest side of this system.

February 1st, 6 AM weather map

February 2nd 6 AM weather map


Click here for a nice write up of the event from the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities.

Here are some pictures from the Quad Cities (Meteorologist Kyle Kiel took them)


Posted under Weather History, Winter Weather

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on February 2, 2018


Iowa Tornadoes to Heavy Snow in Less Than 2 Days (1967)

Living in Iowa, we get all sorts of weather, any time of the year.  In late January 1967, parts of the state had severe weather one day, and then heavy snow less than two days later.

On January 24 1967, a strong cold front brought several tornadoes to Iowa, Missouri, Illinois and Wisconsin.

One of the stronger tornadoes was an F3, which tracked near Ft. Madison in extreme southeast Iowa.  The tornado destroyed two homes and killed one person, and injuring 6 others.  An F4 tornado tracked from Schuyer and Scotland counties in Missouri, to Davis County in southern Iowa.  The twister destroyed 5 farms, with heavy damage to 20 other.  There were 2 injuries.

In all, 11 tornadoes tracked through the four states, killing 7 people.

In less than 36 hours, a winter storm affected the southern part of Iowa, bringing freezing rain, heavy snow and blizzard conditions to some of the same areas that were impacted by tornadoes.

Talk about a wild ride of weather.  Visit the National Weather Service page for more information.


Posted under Severe Weather, Weather History, Winter Weather

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on January 24, 2018

Record Cold Temperatures

On January 16, 2009, the Waterloo airport set a record. The temperature dropped to a frigid -34°F. That marks the coldest temperature ever recorded at that location.

Manchester, Coggon and 1 mi NE of Decorah all saw a low of -40° that same day.

More reports from that frigid January day can be found on an previous blog post by clicking here.

Just a day earlier, the Cedar Rapids airport saw its coldest temperature on record. The Eastern Iowa Airport cooled to -29° on January 15, 2009.


The all-time record low for Iowa City is -32° on February 13, 1905. Even further back is the all-time record low for Dubuque on January 7, 1887 at -32°.


Posted under Temperatures, Weather History

This post was written by Rachael Peart on January 16, 2018

Coldest January Air in Years

The New Year began on an especially cold note. In fact, last week saw some of the coldest air eastern Iowa has seen in years. Waterloo saw a low temperature of -21° three times in the first week of 2018. Monday morning, Tuesday morning and Saturday morning all cooled to the lowest temperature the airport had recorded in January since 2014.

Click the images below to enlarge.



In Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, the first week of 2018 brought the coldest January air since 2009.

Cedar Rapids:

Iowa City:

Subzero temperatures are likely again this weekend.


Posted under Weather History, Winter Weather

This post was written by Rachael Peart on January 8, 2018

First Voiced Radio Forecast

On January 3, 1921, the University of Wisconsin-Madison broadcast a weather forecast by voice on the radio station 9XM (now known as WHA). This would mark the first time that a voiced forecast had been transmitted on radio in United States history. Previous forecasts were transmitted through Morse Code.

Here is the national forecast map for Monday January 3, 1921:

The forecast high in Madison that day was 28° under clear skies and a south wind. Dubuque had a forecast high of 28° and precip possible at night for eastern Iowa.

For more weather history, visit the National Weather Service’s page here.


Posted under Weather History

This post was written by Rachael Peart on January 3, 2018