OTTUMWA — Storms swept southeast Iowa Friday in advance of the summer’s first real heat wave.
The heat was preceded by a powerful line of storms that downed multiple trees and brought down large limbs in Ottumwa. Multiple roads were blocked or partially blocked, and others saw flooding that left several inches of water across roadways.
Winds at Ottumwa Regional Airport clocked in at a sustained 41 mph with gusts in excess of 60 mph. The National Weather Service issued multiple severe thunderstorm warnings as the storms approached the region.
It wasn’t just Ottumwa that was hit hard. Flooding was reported in Blakesburg, and trees were toppled in Pella. Eddyville reportedly saw power outages. Damage to roofs and siding was reported in Moravia.
The Storm Prediction Center's reports are available here.
High temperatures will be in the low 90s for the next several days, but it will feel a few degrees warmer. The National Weather Service said heat indices will be in the upper 90s through the weekend, but should fall short of the triple-digit feels of the air in western Iowa.
People heading to the balloon races or other weekend activities shouldn’t look for much relief from a breeze, either. Winds through the weekend are expected to be calm. That’s good news for balloon crews, but bad for those looking for relief from temperatures.
Daytime highs are not expected to drop below 90 degrees until the middle of next week, and overnight hours will offer less relief than normal. Lows will stay above 70 degrees for the foreseeable future.
Prolonged heat like what the Ottumwa area will see is particularly risky for those whose health makes them vulnerable or those who cannot escape into air conditioning.
People working or playing outside should be sure to take breaks and be sure to stay hydrated. Light-colored, loose clothing can help as well. Know the signs of heat exhaustion, which can include nausea and cramps. Heat exhaustion can be treated by getting into air conditioning and drinking cool water if the person is fully conscious. A cool shower can help, too.
Heat stroke, on the other hand, is a life-threatening condition and requires immediate medical care. It happens when the body’s efforts to cool itself are overwhelmed and shut down. Symptoms include a body temperature of 103 degrees or above and hot, dry skin without sweating. Heat stroke must be treated by emergency medical personnel, and help should be summoned immediately.
While the outside air will be uncomfortable, the heat inside cars will be lethal. Do not leave children or pets unattended in vehicles in this weather.