The area was hit with several strong thunderstorm cells that formed south of Algona and then tracked into the Forest City, Crystal Lake, and Lake Mills vicinities on Tuesday night. KIOW broke into programming at 8pm to begin coverage of the extremely strong storms.
The cells began to intensify just south of Algona clocking winds near 55 miles per hour. The storms also began to track at that same speed through Algona prompting the National Weather Service to first fire off a Severe Thunderstorm Watch at 7:45pm, followed almost immediately at 7:52pm with a Severe Thunderstorm Warning in Hancock and Winnebago Counties.
As the storms tracked northeast, they continued to intensify. Brad Buffington was in Hancock County and reported to KIOW about strong winds, heavy rain, and hail. There was also severe cloud to ground lightning. As the storms tracked northeast, several KIOW listeners texted or called in during the broadcast about spotting hail ranging from pea size to near quarter sized hail. Crystal Lake residents reported the latter.
The storms moved into the Forest City area and began to drop pea to nickel sized hail, heavy rains, and continuous cloud to ground lightning. Calls were coming in about strong winds knocking down sheds and scattering tree debris from various locations such as Belmond, Garner, and Britt. Debris became a problem in Belmond as Highway 69 was blocked in both directions as tree branches on the road halted traffic.
Hail reports began to come in from Wesley where 1 inch hail had fallen. In Garner, there were various hail size reports ranging from pea to nickel. Leland saw one inch hail after the storms moved out of Forest City and Crystal Lake.
Winds also played a key role in the severity of the Tuesday night storms. Both Buffalo Center and Belmond received 50 mph winds, Algona clocked them at 70 mph causing tree damage and downing at least one, and Grafton saw a wind gust at 71 mph. In Garner, there were reports of roof shingles on the roads due to the severity of the winds.
In Kossuth County at 9pm, storms began to fire up on the south end of the county and intensify. The winds associated with these storms were strong enough to damage trees, roofs on homes, and blow multiple buildings into the roads or fields. No tornadic activity was reported lending to the possibility of straight line winds. Kossuth road crews cleared the debris off of the roads by mid morning.
Storms caused some concerns in Belmond during an awards ceremony at the high school. Sources say that officials moved attendees to a safer location within the school as the storms rumbled overhead.
Power outages and cable issues became a problem in the area. In Forest City, Mediacom cable service was disrupted, but then restored by 1am. Alliant Energy reported 4,944 customers in Cerro Gordo County. Power loss was also suffered in Franklin, Hancock, Kossuth, Winnebago, Worth, and Wright Counties. In all, Alliant Energy said that 6,300 people were without power during and just after the storm. The Belmond area blocked off roads this morning in order to restore power to some locations that had gone dark because of the storms.
More storms will fire off tonight as a near stationary front is causing instability in the atmosphere. Some of these storms could become severe in nature with the possibility of weak tornadoes, heavy rain, dangerous lightning, and hail. Stay tuned to KIOW for further details on any weather warnings today and tonight.