June 04, 2023

Neighborhoods left devastated after storms

Jasper County communities picking up the pieces after strong winds topple trees, damage homes and cut power

Straight-line winds as fast as 99 mph on Monday ripped through Central Iowa communities, including Jasper County, and have severely damaged neighborhoods and left thousands of people without power. According to the National Weather Service, some of the strongest winds hit Newton.

And, unfortunately, it shows.

If a massive, downed tree isn’t blocking a roadway, it’s likely fallen into someone’s yard, splintered into jagged pieces or, in some cases, collapsed onto the roof of a home. Streets were full of debris, causing motorists to find alternative routes to their residences. Others watched in awe, snapping photos.

National Weather Service reported the highest official wind gust measured 99 mph at the Marshalltown Airport, but an unofficial wind gust of 106 mph was also reported at Le Grand. Some of the strongest winds were between Highway 30 and Interstate 80, moving eastward.

Areas affected by these straight-line winds include: the Des Moines metro, Ames, Newton, Marshalltown, Tama/Toledo and Carroll, the National Weather Service reported. These types of destructive gusts known as a derecho, which the National Severe Storm Laboratory defines as:

“A widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms,” the NSSL’s website states, noting derecho wind speeds usually exceed 58 mph. “A typical derecho consists of numerous microbursts, downbursts and downburst clusters.”

On Monday morning, shortly after the storm had cleared, Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty breathlessly confirmed just about every town in the area was hit. Multiple power lines were down and upended trees were scattered all over the place. Several damages to structures and crops. Some roads were inaccessible.

Recovery efforts began almost immediately. Authorities encouraged — and still do — citizens not to travel, especially when there were numerous reports of electrical wires within arms reach of the road surface. Injuries sustained from the storm were minor, and there have been no reported fatalities from the storm.

Timeframes are difficult to manage right now, Halferty said. Officials don’t know when roads will open up, nor when power will be restored.

Read more extensive coverage of the derecho storm in the Friday edition of the Newton News.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com