DES MOINES, Iowa — A storm system carrying high wind, hail and Iowa's first tornadoes in nearly a year moved through the state Sunday, damaging some homes and knocking out power to thousands. No one was injured.
Iowa had gone 358 consecutive days without a confirmed tornado, a striking statistic in a state that has averaged 47 a year since 1980. In 2012 the state recorded 16 tornadoes, seven on one day — April 14. In 2011 Iowa endured 51 tornadoes that injured 16 people.
The Des Moines Register reported (http://dmreg.co/YUfPsk ) that an area about 30 miles west of Des Moines was hardest hit Sunday.
The National Weather Service confirmed tornado touchdowns near Huxley and Earlham. Another was witnessed in a farm field by firefighters near Grundy Center, but hasn't been confirmed.
A mobile home in Earlham lost its roof and five more were damaged, according to the National Weather Service. A semitrailer truck blew over about a mile west of Earlham, and another overturned on Interstate Highway 35 near Ankeny, blocking southbound traffic for more than an hour. A farmer in Mitchell County lost cattle when wind blew over a barn killing some of the animals inside.
Downed power lines left about 14,000 homes and business without power across the state as of Monday morning.
Alliant Energy said 13,817 customers were without power in central and eastern Iowa — mostly in an area stretching from Cedar Rapids to Ottumwa. About 100 MidAmerican Energy customers in central Iowa also had no power.
Several motorists who said they saw a funnel cloud took shelter at the Casey's General Store in Dallas Center where Scott Mitchell was working behind the counter. He said the wind howled as the system moved through.
"It was really roaring in here," he said. He later learned the storm felled a tree in his backyard.
A tornado warning forced Ankeny school officials to interrupt high school graduation under way at Drake University in Des Moines. Graduates and audience members were moved to shelter on the university campus for more than a half-hour as tornado sirens wailed. No faculty members could remember any year when graduation was punctuated by a tornado warning, said district spokesman Jarrett Peterson.
Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com