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Monday marks 22nd anniversary of historic Iowa wind storm

A wind gust of 123 MPH was recorded in the city of Washington.
Credit: NWS Quad Cities


Monday marks the 22nd anniversary of a historic wind storm that moved across Iowa. 

The June 29, 1998 storm led to the highest unofficial recorded wind guts in the history of the state of Iowa, according to the National Weather Service Quad Cities.

That 123 MPH wind gust was measured in the city of Washington.

Based on data from the National Weather Service, the wind event began early in the morning on June 29 as a supercell thunderstorm in eastern Nebraska. This storm pushed east and eventually intensified, transforming into a derecho

A powerful rear-inflow jet near central Iowa was the culprit behind this rapid strengthening. 

A derecho is "known for its widespread high winds and long, persistent life-cycle," according to the National Weather Service

In the early hours of this storm event, a tornado moved 11 miles across Crawford County, causing significant damage to residences and outbuildings. 

The National Weather Service in Des Moines said several other brief tornado touchdowns were reported as the storms pushed across the state. 

Still, most of the damage occurred as a result of damaging wind gusts between 70 and 90 MPH through its duration.

Some areas reported wind gusts even higher, including In the Des Moines metro area. The National Weather Service said post-storm damage surveys suggested that wind gusts reached around 120 MPH for a brief time.

The damage was quite widespread. 

Trucks and heavy construction equipment were blown over on the interstates and hundreds of homes and other buildings were unroofed or otherwise severely damaged with countless reports of trees falling on homes, according to NWS meteorologists. 

In eastern Iowa, the storms produced more extreme wind damage near and south of Iowa City, with an observer at Muscatine recording a wind gust of 104 MPH.

Freight train cars were blown off a railroad bridge over the Iowa River and plunged into the water below near Iowa City.

As the storm moved from west to east, nearly 500,000 people were without power statewide. Some spots did not have power restored for almost a week. 

At least 125 people were hurt by flying debris. Fortunately, there were no fatalities. 

The storm was responsible for over $150 million in damages, with $100 million of that occurring just in Polk County.

The storm eventually crossed the Mississippi River, bringing strong winds to Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. 

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