OTTUMWA — Southeast Iowa finally got the rain it was waiting for Sunday and Monday, but it brought severe weather the region didn’t need.
Most counties around Ottumwa saw a tornado warning Sunday. Wapello County had two. While no tornadoes touched down, the rotation in the storms was strong enough to show up on radar and photos showed a very low wall cloud south of Ottumwa.
Large hail fell on some areas. The National Weather Service revised an initial report of 1-inch hail in Wapello County after receiving a photo showing hailstones the size of a ping-pong ball. Hail at Blakesburg was even bigger — 2.75 inches.
Monday’s storms weren’t quite as powerful but still resulted in a severe thunderstorm watch for southeastern Iowa. The storms led to multiple severe thunderstorm warnings as wind gusts topped 60 mph and hail of up to the size of a quarter was reported. The potential was enough to draw the Iowa Storm Chasing Network's spotters to Bloomfield to begin their afternoon chase.
Rainfall totals were well in excess of 2 inches. By midafternoon Monday, Ottumwa received 2.79 inches, with more on the way. The National Weather Service placed much of the area under a flash flood watch as a result.
The rain should have an effect on Thursday’s report from the U.S. Drought Monitor. The weekly reports include information collected through the prior Tuesday, which means the earlier storms should count against drought conditions.
Much of the area, including almost all of Wapello County, remain in moderate drought following a dry second half of 2013.