Disasters and Emergencies
When a tornado is coming, you have only a short amount of time to make life-or-death decisions. Advance planning and quick response are the keys to surviving a tornado.
Tornado Danger Signs
- An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible.
- Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.
- Rain-wrapped tornadoes are especially dangerous. They are common with heavy precipitation supercell thunderstorms, which are frequently occurring in Iowa. Supercell storms have been observed to generate the vast majority of long-lived and violent (EF2-EF5) tornadoes, as well as downburst damage and large hail.
Mitigation includes any activities that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or lessen the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies. Investing in preventive mitigation steps now, such as checking local building codes and ordinances about wind-resistant designs and strengthening un-reinforced masonry, will help reduce the impact of tornadoes in the future.
- For more information on mitigation, contact your local emergency management office.
- For more information on building a safe room for your home, visit FEMA’s website.
- For more information about community and school safe rooms, visit the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management website.
Know what to do before, during, and after a tornado.
Iowa disaster history
Parkersburg EF-5 Tornado
On May 25, 2008, a killer EF-5 tornado carved a 43-mile path of destruction in eastern Iowa. It was the strongest tornado Iowa had seen since the Jordan tornado between Boone and Ames in 1976. There has not been a tornado rated as an EF-5 in Iowa since. It developed just south of Aplington, near the Grundy/Butler County line, a little after 4:45 PM and quickly grew in strength and size, reaching winds over 200 mph while it was 3/4-mile wide moving through Parkersburg. The tornado shredded the southern third of the town. More than 280 homes and 22 businesses were lost. The Aplington-Parkersburg high school was demolished, as well as the town’s only gas station and grocery store. The storm killed 9 people – 7 in Parkersburg, 1 west of New Hartford, and 1 north of New Hartford. Fifty other people were injured.
Video credit: Iowa News Now