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Severe weather: More storms forecast in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Several tornadoes were reported in Iowa and Illinois as storms downed power lines and trees Friday, just days after a deadly twister. devastated a small town.

The large storm system began overnight in Nebraska before moving through central Iowa and into Illinois. A weak tornado touched down in suburban Des Moines, according to the National Weather Service, which was also assessing damage from several other tornadoes reported south of Iowa City and near Moline, Illinois. No injuries or deaths were reported.

The storm also brought heavy rain to parts of Iowa, where totals reached up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) over the past week, according to the weather service.

Also on Friday, a church caught fire in Madison, Wisconsin, as a thunderstorm swept through the area. Nate Moll, who lives two doors down from Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, said he heard an electric “zap zap zap” sound, followed by a loud clap of thunder. Firefighters extinguished the fire.

In Oklahoma, a tornado was on the ground for about an hour Thursday night in Jackson County and surrounding counties as a slow-moving storm moved through, according to Ryan Bunker, a meteorologist at the weather service office in Norman, Oklahoma. Media reported downed power lines, outages and damage to some structures.

Severe weather conditions were expected in areas around the United States over the long Memorial Day weekend, with a strong risk of tornadoes on Saturday in the Great Plains, particularly in Kansas and Oklahoma. In New Mexico, high winds and low humidity could spark wildfires.

“It’s really important that if you have outdoor plans, you make sure you’re on the lookout for approaching storms,” ​​said Matt Elliott, warning coordination meteorologist with the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center.

“May is the time of year with the highest number of tornadoes and severe weather conditions across the United States,” Elliott said.

The latest severe weather comes as residents of Greenfield, Iowa, a community of about 2,000 people, have been cleaning up after a Strong tornado on Tuesday. Friday’s storm system brought heavy rain, dime-sized hail and 75 mph (121 km/h) wind gusts to a community still recovering after four people were killed and 35 others were injured when a tornado destroyed more than 100 homes and hit a nearby area. wind farm.

Among the dead were Dean and Pam Wiggins, grandson Tom Wiggins said.

On Thursday, she tried to find any of her grandparents’ keepsakes left after the tornado demolished their home, leaving little more than its foundation. She described them as “incredibly loved not only by our family but by the entire town.”

Not far away, Bill Yount was cleaning.

“It’s like someone got a bomb,” Yount said, pointing to the terrain: covered in wood, debris, trees stripped of their leaves, heavy machinery and equipment to clean up the mess.

He waited out the storm in a closet.

The National Weather Service determined that three separate powerful tornadoes tore paths totaling 130 miles (209 kilometers) across Iowa on Tuesday.

In addition to tornadoes, Saturday’s storms could bring extremely large hail, according to Elliott of the Storm Prediction Center. The risk of strong tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds will move to parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky on Sunday. On Monday, the Mid-Atlantic region could see some severe thunderstorms.

Tornado risks increase in May because cold, dry air occasionally flowing from Canada collides with warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and strong upper-level winds in the atmosphere, Elliott said.

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O’Malley reported from Philadelphia. Associated Press writer Rick Callahan in Indianapolis also contributed.

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