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Blown Over by the Storm

Farmers and rural energy producers have felt the wrath of severe storms in Iowa this spring in ways that they haven’t experienced in decades. A series of tornadoes hit the state this week, killing at least five people and damaging or destroying nearly 200 homes and businesses.

RELATED: This video from WOWT-TV shows what it is like to drive into town after a tornado hit Greenfield, Iowa. 

Watch this story from KTIV-TV of neighbors and strangers helping tornado victims.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig estimated that previous severe storms last month that hit the southern and central part of the state damaged 74 farms. It could be next week before his office knows how many additional farms suffered damage from this latest storm.

Besides the substantial damage to some farmsteads, grain bins, storage facilities and outbuildings, the most striking visual of the power of the storms was what they did to wind turbines.

Wind turbines have anemometers to measure wind speed and a wind vane to track wind’s direction. The turbines are designed to protect themselves from high winds. The anemometer will signal the turbine to shut off when it detects wind speeds higher than 55 miles per hour, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.  

55 miles per hour. The storms that tore through southern Iowa nearly doubled that speed. The wind turbines were designed to shut off when high winds hit. They weren’t designed to withstand that type of punishment.

Wind farms near Greenfield (the town where four of the five people died) suffered a direct hit from the tornado. Ten towers in the area were destroyed. One tower caught fire, a rarely seen sight.

The Weather Channel has this video of the aftermath of the storm’s wrath on the wind turbines.

Reed Timmer, one of the country’s most well-known storm chasers and a meteorologist, posted this drone footage of the tornado destroying the wind turbine.

KCRG-TV has this video of the flames and black smoke rising moments after the tornado hit a wind turbine.

If there is any blessing, it’s that Iowa has already received more than double the rain that it usually gets in May. Too much too fast can be a challenge, of course. And rain has put some farmers’ spring planting behind schedule.

But the state had entered its fourth year of drought, so producers need precipitation. They have already had more than their fair share of extreme weather with that rainfall, though.  


American Farmland Owner Hayfields mountains


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