Rare Overnight Tornadoes Touch Down In Western Iowa

May 23, 2019

The National Weather Service has confirmed two tornadoes touched down in western Iowa Wednesday morning near the towns of Adair and Anita.

One followed a five-mile path, crossing I-80 near Adair with winds estimated between 120 and 130 miles per hour.  Linda Lee Brownwell, 74, died and her husband Harold, 78, was hospitalized after the storm hit their home.

The other tornado was on the ground southeast of Anita for one mile. It destroyed an old barn, according to the NWS, but there were no reported injuries.

Tornadoes are most common in Iowa in the late afternoon and evening.
Credit National Weather Service / Des Moines

The NWS said the two funnels occurred around 1 a.m., which is unusual. Tornadoes most commonly occur in the late afternoon, from 3p.m.-6p.m.

“Looking at the tornadoes that have occurred since 1980, less than 5 percent occur between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.,” said NWS meteorologist Chad Hahn.

Hahn recommends keeping a cell phone with wireless alerts and a weather radio nearby at night since sirens may not be loud enough to hear.

"Outdoor warning sirens are not designed to wake you up at nighttime to notify you in the event of a severe thunderstorm or a tornado,” Hahn said.

The two tornadoes are the first to be confirmed in Iowa this year.