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KCRG Weather Blog

Timeline and radar from Parkersburg tornado

Ten years ago, a violent tornado tore through Parkersburg and New Hartford and produced damage elsewhere in Butler, Black Hawk, and Bremer County. The following is a timeline of the event from the National Weather Service in Des Moines, along with additional information and radar images. 3:30 p.m. - Storm Prediction Center issues a tornado watch for much of Iowa, including Butler and Black Hawk County. A shower develops northwest of Story City in central Iowa, which appears to be what will become the storm that produces the EF5 tornado. 4:22 p.m. - Tornado warning issued for northeastern Grundy, northeastern Hardin, Butler, and southeastern Franklin County. Tornado warning includes the cities of Aplington and Parkersburg. 4:46 p.m. - Follow-up tornado warning issued for northern Grundy and southeastern Butler counties. Warning includes the cities of Aplington, Parkersburg, and New Hartford. The warning states that the tornado will be near Parkersburg by 5 p.m. 4:48 p.m. - Tornado touches down two miles south of Aplington near the Butler-Grundy County line. The lowest angle of the radar beam is more than a mile above the ground, but rotation in the storm is clearly happening. 4:51 p.m. - Follow-up statement to tornado warning is issued. The warning reiterates that the tornado will be near Parkersburg by 5 p.m. 4:58 p.m. - Follow-up statement to tornado warning is issued. The warning states that the tornado will be near New Hartford by 5:10 p.m. 4:59 p.m. - Tornado moves into the southern part of Parkersburg. 5:02 p.m. - Follow-up statement to tornado warning issued. The warning reiterates that the tornado will be near New Hartford by 5:10 p.m. At this time, the tornado is about a half-mile to three-quarters of a mile wide. 5:04 p.m. - Tornado warning issued for northern Black Hawk and Bremer County. The warning includes northern portions of Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and areas north of Dunkerton. 5:09 p.m. - Tornado hits housing subdivision one mile north of New Hartford. The bright blob in the "hook" of the storm is debris being carried more than 6,000 feet into the air. 5:21 p.m. - Tornado warning issued for Black Hawk and southern Bremer County. The warning includes Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and Dunkerton. 5:22 p.m. to 5:50 p.m. - Tornado moves into northern Black Hawk County and continues east, producing damage just north of Cedar Falls and Waterloo. The tornado is about a quarter-mile wide. Straight-line winds of 90 to 100 mph occur south of the tornado. The Waterloo airport records a 93 mph wind gust at 5:37 p.m. 5:37 p.m. - Tornado warning issued for northern Black Hawk County. The warning includes Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and Dunkerton. Warning states that the tornado will be near Dunkerton by 5:50 p.m. 5:51 p.m. - Tornado hits a farmhouse three miles north of Dunkerton. The tornado expands to its largest width, 1.2 miles. 5:58 p.m. - Tornado lifts just before entering Buchanan County. Iowa Helicopter did an aerial survey of the damage. Click here for an interactive map of the photos. Click on a camera icon to see the photo from that spot. You can also read more detailed information about the storm survey, and how the EF5 rating was determined, at this link.

Temperature inside cars heats up surprisingly fast

The interior of a car heats up to lethal levels in a short amount of time. When the air temperature (which is measured in the shade) is 90 degrees, the interior of a car will rise to 109 degrees in just 10 minutes! That’s according to data from San Jose State University. This is important to note on our first hot weekend of the year. This will be prolonged into next week as well. On average, 37 children die in hot cars every year in the United States. All these deaths are preventable! As the National Weather Service says, “beat the heat, check the back seat.”

Beyond the Weather: Holiday weekend views

The first weekend of family gatherings is with us this late May. During that time we may take in a barbecue, go to a parade or attend observances for Memorial Day. Make sure at night you make some family time to take a look beyond the weather. You can again use the moon as a target to find a planet. Starting Thursday night, continuing through the weekend, focus on the southeast sky at dusk. The moon will be lower in the sky each night, passing by the planet Jupiter just off the horizon. The third full moon of the spring season takes place next Tuesday. This is known as the Flower Moon, Planting Moon or Milk Moon. Happy stargazing!

Storms for some, then heat for everybody

A weak front will try to press into Iowa on Friday, sparking some showers and storms. Whatever does develop will be scattered, so not everybody will get rain. Even those who do will have many dry hours. While severe weather is not likely, stronger storms could produce gusty winds and brief heavy rain. After that, the heat is on. Summer-like weather is in control over the holiday weekend as highs climb to around 90 Saturday through Memorial Day. The mugginess won’t be extreme, but it’ll be uncomfortable, especially since this is the first bout of this kind of weather this season. Heat indices should reach the lower 90s. Never leave a pet or child alone in a vehicle, even with the window cracked. The temperature inside the car will go above 100 degrees in about ten minutes’ time. If you plan on being out to enjoy the weather, remember that water is your best beverage option. Get out of the sun and heat every so often to give your body a break as it starts to get used to summer’s heat.

Spring’s last hard freeze was late, but last frost was a little early

We had a record cold April, but there’s been a lack of chilly weather since then. We haven’t had to contend with frost in nearly a month, and we won’t need to worry about it anytime soon. We start to think about patchy frost when the low temperature falls to 36 degrees. A freeze occurs at 32 degrees, and a hard freeze happens at 28 degrees. Cedar Rapids’ low of 27 degrees on April 29 was the last time the temperature met those categories. The average date of the last 28-degree low is April 11, 32 degrees is April 22, and 36 degrees is May 4. Dubuque’s last hard freeze was April 20, and the average last date for that is April 13. April 29 was the last cold morning when the low was 32 degrees. The average last 32-degree low is April 24, and for 36 degrees, it’s May 6. Iowa City’s last hard freeze was also on April 20, and the last frost and freeze were April 29. The average last low of 28 or colder is April 9, 32 degrees is April 21, and 36 degrees is May 2. Waterloo, like Cedar Rapids, had its last cold morning on April 29 when the low was 26 degrees. It hasn’t fallen into the 30s since then. The average date of the last 28-degree low is April 15, 32 degrees is April 29, and 36 degrees is May 6.