Public Safety

Western Iowa tornado kills woman, seriously injures man

A pair of tornadoes were the first in the state this year

National Weather Service graphic for preliminary survey after May 21, 2019 tornado near Adair, Iowa (NWS Des Moines)
National Weather Service graphic for preliminary survey after May 21, 2019 tornado near Adair, Iowa (NWS Des Moines)
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One of the two first tornadoes to strike Iowa this year proved deadly, killing one person and seriously injuring another early Wednesday near Adair in western Iowa.

According to the National Weather Service, a fast-developing tornado hit a rural homestead south of Interstate 80, causing extensive damage to the home and to outbuildings on the property.

First responders found the body of Linda Lee Brownlee, 74, at the home. Harold Brownlee, 78, was seriously injured and flown by air ambulance to a Des Moines hospital, where he is in critical but stable condition, according to the Adair County Sheriff’s Office.

“We greatly appreciate the thoughts and prayers from our friends and the community at this difficult time. We would like to thank the Adair County Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Management, first responders, EMS and MercyOne Des Moines Air Ambulance for their quick response to provide care,” the Brownlee family said in a statement. ”At this time we request privacy, as we focus our energy on our father’s recovery and the remembrance of our stepmother.

Debris from the damage was strewn onto I-80, where a semi went in the ditch. A storm survey team later found damage to other homes and buildings farther south.

The weather service classified the tornado as EF-2 with peak winds of between 120 and 130 mph. It touched down at 1:29 a.m., cutting a 4.8 mile path in eight minutes.

The weather service said another tornado — an EF-1 with peak winds of 95 mph — struck about a half-hour earlier near Anita in Cass County, southwest of Adair. No injuries were reported, but a barn and trees were damaged,

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Last year, there were 69 tornadoes in Iowa. The strongest were a pair of EF-3 storms that struck Marshalltown and the Vermeer equipment plant in Pella, causing extensive damage.

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