More than 75 million people from Atlanta to Philadelphia faced the threat of severe storms Monday, days after a deadly tornado outbreak, including an EF-4 twister, killed seven people in Iowa.
Other cities that could experience severe weather include Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said, adding that the main threats include isolated tornadoes and damaging winds..
Heavy rain will accompany Monday’s storms, especially in the Ohio River Valley, with the potential for one to two inches per hour, she said. Flood watches have been issued for parts of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia, and the ground in the region is already saturated with heavy rain for the past two weeks.
Any additional rain will make ongoing flooding worse, Brink said.
As these large parts of the country brace for the potential for more severe weather, recovery efforts continue in Iowa, where multiple tornadoes touched down near Des Moines on Saturday, killing seven people, including two children, and affecting dozens of houses.
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Residents may have had less time to prepare and seek shelter due to the late release of tornado warnings issued by the local National Weather Service, including in Madison County, where the director of Emergency Management Diogenes Ayala said six residents were killed.
The oldest victim was 72 and the youngest was 2, Ayala told a Winterset news conference on Sunday afternoon. He had said earlier that there were two victims under the age of 5.
A person in a rural area near the Lucas County town of Chariton was also killed, an official said.
The tornado in Winterset was raised to an EF-4 level – with maximum sustained winds of 170 mph – by the National Weather Service on Monday. It remained on the ground for more than an hour and a half and its trajectory extended for almost 70 miles.
It was the first EF-4 tornado in Iowa since October 2013 and the second-longest tornado path since 1980, behind only a 117-mile path on June 7, 1984, in southern Iowa.
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Officials said six Madison County people were being treated for injuries sustained in the tornado. Ayala previously said one adult had life-threatening injuries and three others were hospitalized in serious condition.
“This is, I think, the worst anyone has seen in quite a long time,” Ayala said on Sunday, telling reporters that about 52 homes over a distance of more than 21 km were damaged or destroyed in the county. of Madison.
Tornado warnings have been issued in Arkansas late Sunday and early Monday. A spokesperson for the Arkansas Emergency Management Division said there was tornado damage and several downed power lines near the Martin Township area, about 70 miles northwest of downtown Little Rock, with one injury reported.
According to the agency, a family was trapped in their storm shelter, but was later able to be helped and is safe.
The Pope County Emergency Management Office in northwest Arkansas has asked people to avoid the area “as emergency responders and other officials are working in the area to clean up and monitor the residents”.
There were just under 40 tornado reports over the weekend, according to CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen. Most were reported in Iowa on Saturday, although there were others in Arkansas, Missouri, Wisconsin and Indiana. In total, there have been more than 200 reports of severe weather — including tornadoes, damaging winds and hail — in more than a dozen states, Hennen said.
Saturday’s tornado warnings were delayed in reaching the public — between one and nine minutes — once issued by the National Weather Service (NWS), including warnings for Madison County.
“I can confirm that the warning time was on average 20 minutes and some of the warnings were delayed in their broadcast,” NWS spokeswoman Susan Buchanan told CNN Monday morning. The delay was first detected by Daryl Herzmann, a systems analyst at Iowa State University.
A damaged fiber optic cable caused a two to seven minute delay for warning transmissions to other platforms such as Weather.gov and wireless emergency alerts, spokeswoman Susan Buchanan said. of the NWS, to CNN in a statement.
“The Des Moines Forecast Office was aware of the delay and took the precaution of issuing warnings earlier than they normally would under similar circumstances to compensate and ensure warnings reach the public in time. timely,” Buchanan’s statement read. “The cable outage forced this office to transition from its primary terrestrial communications network to a backup satellite network that serves all NWS field offices.”
The combination of an increase in messages and the performance characteristics of the satellite network slowed the queue of message transmissions and created a backlog in several offices, Buchanan said.
“Our primary focus now is to immediately implement procedural changes to avoid a repeat,” Buchanan said.
After the inclement weather passed, many residents began the difficult process of recovering from the damage inflicted.
In Des Moines, Shannon Brown told CNN affiliate KCCI that she had just parked her Jeep at her home when the storm hit, with a tree crashing into the top of the vehicle. She was unharmed and said she was grateful to other members of the community who were helping with the cleanup efforts.
“You really realize who cares about you and makes you feel special, you know you have all these people who are ready to help you,” she told KCCI.
Complicating the situation is a cold front moving across the state, with areas hit by tornadoes now primed for snowfall. The southern part of the state began to receive snow Sunday evening.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation for Madison County authorizing the use of state resources for response and recovery efforts, according to a news release. Additional counties may be added to the proclamation.
The Chariton tornado is also estimated to be an EF3 with winds of 138 mph and was on the ground for more than 16 miles, according to preliminary NWS investigations.
Other tornadoes that touched down included an EF2 with estimated winds of 122 mph near Leon, which was on the ground for 19 miles, the NWS said.
An EF1 tornado with 110 mph winds occurred in Vinton, an EF1 with 100 mph winds hit West Lake Park, and an EF-0 tornado also touched down West Lake Park with 65 mph winds, according to the NWS.
The agency said it is still conducting statewide damage surveys and working to determine how many tornadoes have occurred.