The Ottumwa Courier

Wapello County

January 3, 2013

2012 tornado season was short lived

OSKALOOSA — The tornado totals for Iowa in 2012 were much smaller than normal, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some significant events.

Iowa saw only 16 tornadoes in 2012, none of which were any stronger than EF2. A total of six people were injured, and the state saw no deaths due to tornadoes.

Meteorolgist Craig Cogil with the Des Moines office of the National Weather Service wrote the report on the 2012 tornado totals. The state’s long-term average is 47 tornadoes per year. Cogil wrote the 2012 totals are the lowest “since reliable records started in 1980.”

There were, of course, tornadoes in Iowa before 1980. But records are weaker given differing standards for reporting and recording the storms. Iowa recorded 15 tornadoes in 1963, though most experts believe there were likely more that went unreported.

The day of the first tornado, April 14, was also the day with the most. Six tornadoes touched down that day, including two of the three EF2 tornadoes recorded for the year.

April 14 saw a pair of EF1 tornadoes touch down in the area. One touched down about a mile north of the Oskaloosa airport and stayed on the ground for 1.27 miles. Eleven minutes later, another touched down near Hedrick in Keokuk County. It stayed on the ground for three miles.

A look at those two tornadoes illustrates just how fast tornadoes can do their damage. The Oskaloosa tornado was on the ground from 9:22 p.m. to 9:24 p.m. The Hedrick tornado lasted slightly longer, from 9:35 p.m. to 9:38 p.m.

The National Weather Service report says the Hedrick tornado began a mile west of town and damaged 10 homes as it passed through Hedrick. It also dumped a law enforcement patrol car into a ditch.

The final tornado of 2012 was reported May 24, six weeks earlier than the previous record for the last tornado of a calendar year.

“Tornadoes only occurred in two months during 2012, which has not happened since reliable records started in 1980 and only occurred once before in 1955, when reporting standards were much more suspect,” wrote Cogil.

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