Two tornadoes touch down Monday afternoon; minor damage reported

Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 2:41 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 16, 2023 at 5:14 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - An unusual mid-winter severe weather event produced at least two tornado touchdowns in eastern Iowa Monday afternoon.

Officials said the first tornado touched down at about 2 p.m. near Interstate 80 just east of the Williamsburg exit. A semi-tracker trailer and a passenger vehicle were blown off the interstate as the tornado passed, no injuries were reported. Iowa County officials said they received several reports of damage to a cattle shelter and tree damage at another farm. Power line damage was reported as the tornado moved to the northeast toward South Amana before lifting as it headed into portions of Johnson and Linn Counties.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service said initial reports indicated the tornado had winds of 90 m.p.h. and was rated an EF-1 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. The tornado was on the ground for about eight minutes and traveled nearly five miles.

A second tornado was reported at about 2:50 p.m. near Ely in Linn County. Officials said that tornado caused no observable damage and was rated an EF-U, meaning there wasn’t enough damage to evaluate. No other damage has been reported.

Meteorologists said an unusual dynamic set up over the Midwest Monday producing conditions that were favorable for severe weather development.

“Enough instability developed to allow thunderstorms near Williamsburg to spawn a tornado,” said First Alert Storm Team Chief Meteorologist Joe Winters. “January tornadoes in Iowa are rare.”

The last time a tornado touched down in Iowa during the month of January was on January 24, 1967.