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Iowa's Forces of Nature: A Local 5 Severe Weather Special

Local 5's meteorologists take a closer look at climate change's impacts on severe weather in Iowa, including how the traditional "tornado alley" has shifted.

DES MOINES, Iowa — It's not uncommon for Iowa to get tornadoes in March, but the severe weather on March 5, 2022 was different.

The tornado near Winterset was only the state's third EF-4 tornado in March on record.

Its 70-mile track through Winterset, Norwalk, Pleasant Hill and even Newton was Iowa's longest tornado track in nearly 40 years. Weeks after the storm, cleanup efforts are still ongoing

Sadly, seven people lost their lives on March 5: six in Madison County and one in Lucas County, where a separate EF-3 tornado left its own path of destruction.

Nine tornadoes were confirmed in Iowa on that day, less than three months after an unprecedented mid-December derecho

On Dec. 15, 2021, an extremely powerful low-pressure system brought a plethora of weather phenomena shattered records dating back nearly a century and half in Iowa. 

All but two counties in Iowa had some type of severe weather warning issued.

Seventy-one tornado and 118 severe thunderstorm warnings were issued, and there is no doubt each one of them was warranted.

Sixty-three tornadoes touched down across Iowa on Dec. 15, 21 of which were EF-2 or stronger. 

Prior to this epic storm, Iowa had only recorded a total of five December tornadoes since 1950. 

Watch the Q&A with our team of meteorologists on YouTube

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It was the first and only December derecho ever recorded in Iowa, and anywhere in the United States for that matter.

This, of course, occurred just a little more than a year after the historic Aug. 10, 2020 derecho, a storm that altered Iowa's landscape in a dramatic way.

With so many extreme storms recently, questions arise about the connections these severe weather events have to climate change.

In "Iowa's Forces of Nature: A Local 5 Severe Weather Special," Local 5's team of meteorologists takes a closer look at climate change's impacts on severe weather in Iowa, including how the traditional "tornado alley" has shifted somewhat over the last few decades.

Severe weather is not just tornadoes, though. It includes flooding, which can be more dangerous and deadly than other forms of severe weather. 

Thankfully, new technology through the University of Iowa is making forecasting flooding a bit easier: something Local 5's meteorologists also explore in this half-hour event. 

Finally, in an age of so much information on social media and other websites, using caution when accessing weather forecasts online is more important than ever. At the end of the special, Iowa's team of meteorologists offers some helpful tips on getting reliable information regarding Iowa's ever-changing weather.

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