People & Places

Archive photos: June 1998 derecho hits the Iowa City area

Joe Fink, a CRANDIC railroad employee from Oelwein, listens to his radio as train cars of Iowa Interstate Railroad continue to hang from the bridge and submerged in the river Tuesday afternoon, June 30. (DAN LUEDERT/Photo Intern)
Joe Fink, a CRANDIC railroad employee from Oelwein, listens to his radio as train cars of Iowa Interstate Railroad continue to hang from the bridge and submerged in the river Tuesday afternoon, June 30. (DAN LUEDERT/Photo Intern)
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20 years ago, on June 29, 1998, a type of severe storm known as a derecho swept across Iowa, blowing trains off their tracks, destroying homes and buildings, flattening corn and damaging thousands of trees.

The storm caused more than $150 million in damages across Iowa, including extensive damages in Des Moines and near and south of Iowa City, according to a blog post from the National Weather Service.

A derecho (“deh-REY-cho”) is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that can produce destruction similar to a tornado along a straight-line path, according to the Storm Prediction Center website from the NOAA.

One unofficial instrument in Washington measured wind gusts up to 123 miles per hour, according to the NWS.

More than 100 people were injured by flying debris, but none were killed, according to the NWS.

Gazette photographers captured the storm’s aftermath. Keep reading for more photos and details of the 1998 storm, as captured in The Gazette at the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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