IOWA DERECHO 2020

Eastern Iowa storms on Friday won't match derecho, but hazards remain, officials warn

'Routine' severe summer weather expected, forecasters say

Ashley Turner's back porch roof caved in when a tree fell on her house during the August 10 derecho Cedar Rapids on Wedn
Ashley Turner’s back porch roof caved in when a tree fell on her house during the August 10 derecho Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. The Turner family was without power for 15 days and their home sustained significant damage to its roof. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Isolated storms forecast to roll through Eastern Iowa on Friday evening will be routine, but conditions in the region following the Aug. 10 derecho mean citizens should be extra vigilant this evening, officials said.

Linn County Emergency Management Coordinator Steve O’Konek said broken tree branches remain in trees and there still is debris that is left to be cleaned up. If winds pick up Friday night, the limbs and debris could pose a threat to those caught off guard by the storm.

“It could really be a hazard to people that are outside,” O’Konek said, noting more people could be out and about celebrating the start of the weekend. “We want to make sure people have their head in the game for this storm ... We’re really wanting people to pay attention to this and not take it lightly.”

The official word from the National Weather Service is Friday’s isolated storms will be of the typical summer variety and not like what Iowans experienced a few weeks ago.

“This should not be anything like a derecho at all,” said meteorologist Andy Ervin said, noting Friday’s severe weather will not be as wide spread or long-lasting. “With an isolated storm, small areas of severe weather are certainly possible.”

A strong cold front will move into Eastern Iowa this evening and there could be strong storms ahead of the front, Ervin said. Those storms should be isolated.

The isolated storms come with the threat of hail that could be 1 to 2 inches in diameter, Ervin said. Damaging wind gusts could reach 70 mph and there is a “very low threat” for a tornado, he said.

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“That’s typical for summertime severe weather chances,” Ervin said. “This is a fairly routine severe weather risk.”

O’Konek said 70 mph winds are typically the threshold to activate sirens in the county. But given the potential hazards created by 40 mph winds, the county will activate sirens at that level, O’Konek said.

“We want people to have a little more warning,” he said.

O’Konek recommends area residents listen to their local meteorologists, have weather radios and download a weather app set to deliver text alerts in the case of severe weather.

Isolated rainfall amounts of a quarter inch will do little to address drought conditions in the state, but pleasant weather should follow Friday night’s storms. Erwin said highs in the low 80s and low humidity are forecast for the weekend.

“It should be a wonderful weekend for outdoor activities,” he said.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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