by Steve, April 14th, 2006

As a child growing up in Iowa, I was mortified of tornados. I remember once my folks were out shopping and left me with my older siblings (who loved to torment poor, poor me). They decided it would be fun to tell me there was a tornado warning, so we all went down to the cellar and crouched in the corner. Then they got bored.

AP Photo

Iowa City, my home town, is somewhat on the fringes of tornado alley, but still tornado watches and warnings are things you grow up dealing with. There is nothing quite like the eerie calm that preceeds a prairie storm, with crepuscular light turning green and forboding. Then the rains and winds begin, with angry intensity. Funnel clouds can poke down along the front, but usually recede back into the blackness. The storm marches on, heading for the Mississippi, maybe dumping some golf ball sized hail on the way.

Last night was such a night in Iowa City, but one of the funnel clouds persisted and grew, and turned into and F-2 tornado. It cut an 8 mile path through the heart of town a third of a mile across. (An F2 tornado has estimated winds speeds of 113-157 mph and causes considerable damage).

The Daily Iowan has four photo galleries online: night-of-storm, morning after, and reader submitted. They also have some aerial photos.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen also has morning after and reader submitted photos.

The Des Moines Register duplicates some of these in its two galleries: damage and cleaning up and reader submitted. The register also published an approximate map of the twister’s path.

Update, 4/15/2006: All three papers listed above seem to be updating frequently. If you’re looking for Iowa City tornado photos, I recommend checking the home pages of the Daily Iowan, the Press-Citizen and the Des Moines Register. The Cedar Rapids Gazette has several galleries too. (Please post links if you find others!)

2 Responses to “Tornado”

  1. Comment from ben:

    As I look at the photo you’ve included of St. Pat’s I am reminded of something I noticed in the course of reading many “first-hand accounts” of the tornado over the past couple days. Besides the amazing fact that no one in town died, I found it interesting that almost everyone who survived the storm said they did the same thing—they found the most secure place in the building that they were in, and then at the moment that it seemed like the end was near, they began to pray. It’s not an activity I usually associate with Iowa City, but if it keeps the casualty count down…..I’m all for it.

  2. Comment from Himself:

    Hey Ben, Interesting observation. I’ve only read a couple first-hand accounts, but I’d love to read more. Got links?

    One could see the tornado’s trajectory as somewhat ironic: a church, a liquor store, a bar, a sorority house (is it true they were having a party?)…. But the whole thing has made such an impact on me, I can’t bring myself to play up the irony.

    My stepmom was at church (Trinity Episcopal on Gilbert and College). She sheltered in the church basement.

    Maybe if more right wing Christians would do as the Iowa Citians did (prayed in hiding), God would not be so angry.

    “…when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret…” Matthew 6:6