A very tough night for people in northwest Iowa Saturday Night. More than 20 tornado reports left behind major damage in a handful of towns. At this hour it appears the Monona County town of Mapleton was hardest hit. That’s where Governor Branstad has issued a disaster proclamation. Fortunately at this time it appears there were no serious injuries or deaths which is all you can hope for when a tornado that size strikes a town like that. Survey teams will likely head out today and/or tomorrow to determine the strength and final number of tornadoes that hit northern Iowa.
Now onto today. Much of Iowa has been removed from the moderate risk and instead, a slight risk for severe weather exists for areas along and east of Interstate 35. The one exception is far northeastern Iowa. This is where the greatest threat for tornadoes exists today. Storms are expected to fire sometime this afternoon in this region. These storms are expected to quickly turn tornadic, threatening to produce violent, long-track tornadoes over northeast Iowa.
These storms will also be fast moving, which should quickly transfer the threat into Wisconsin. At this time other portions of eastern Iowa face a smaller threat for severe weather, but the threat still exists. A rather strong cap is expected to develop this afternoon, which could prevent thunderstorm development from occurring south of Highway 20 until later in the afternoon or evening. By this time the threat may shift further east to Illinois. Even so, everyone in the eastern half of Iowa needs to stay up to date with the latest information. I cannot stress enough that once storms begin to fire, it will be only a matter of minutes before they might threaten a given area with tornadoes.
This morning we are expecting to travel north from Cedar Rapids in an attempt to intercept development in northeast Iowa this afternoon. We will plan on launching our live coverage some time around then and will try to bring you as much information in the field. Even if we lose our data signal, you will find up to the minute warning and severe weather information in our live chat window. I hope you stay with us today and urge all of you to take the necessary precautions if you plan on heading outside today. More to come later this morning.