Emergency management officials in Iowa confirmed seven people were killed after tornadoes damaged the central part of the state over the weekend.
Buildings and homes were damaged across the Des Moines metro area and roads were closed as a result of the storms.
One tornado touched down in Madison County, southwest of Des Moines, around 4:30 P.M. on March 5. Six people died, including two children under the age of five. Four others were injured.
The children, their sibling and their parents had traveled from their home in Blue Springs, Missouri, to visit their grandmother in a rural home near Winterset.
Madison County Sheriff Jason Barnes said in an interview with a local television statement that the children, ages 5 and 2, their father and grandmother died after seeking shelter inside the home.
“There was a big impact to housing,” Madison County Emergency Management Director Diogenes Ayala said at a press conference. “Many people had their houses lost and we’re seeing at this point, from the trail to where it started to where it ended, it’s probably about 25 to 30 houses.”
Two tornadoes touched down in Lucas County, southeast of Des Moines, less than an hour apart on the same day. Officials reported one fatality and multiple injuries.
Warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico also brought thunderstorms and high winds to the state that lasted most of March 5.
According to AP News, “the storms are the deadliest to occur in Iowa since May 2008 when one tornado destroyed nearly 300 homes and killed nine people in the northern Iowa city of Parkersburg.”
More than 10,000 power outages were reported in the Des Moines area over the weekend.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynold issued a disaster proclamation for Madison County on March 5. The proclamation allows state resources to be used to assist with response and recovery efforts in the county.
“Our hearts go out to all those affected by the deadly storms that tore through our state today,” said Reynolds in her statement. “Kevin and I join with Iowans in prayer for those that lost their lives and those injured. Our hearts ache during this time, but I know Iowans will step up and come together to help in this time of need—they already are.”
On March 6, a snowstorm brought roughly five inches of snow to central Iowa forcing officials to cancel preplanned storm clean-up efforts. The cleanup will now be held on March 7.
More snow is forecasted for Thursday.
The National Weather Service said the tornado appeared to be at least an EF3 in video footage.
Initial interrogation of photos and videos from around Winterset suggests at least EF3 tornado damage occurred late Saturday afternoon. NWS survey teams will be out Sunday to thoroughly investigate the damage and further assess a potential rating.
— NWS Des Moines (@NWSDesMoines) March 6, 2022
The agency has confirmed that “at least 3 thunderstorms producing tornadoes” were recorded but that it was “unknown at this time how many tornadoes occurred.”