On This Day in Iowa Weather History
2004: A significant severe weather outbreak began on the morning of May 21st and continued into the morning of the 22nd producing 16 tornadoes across Iowa including one that injured 15 people in and around Bradgate. Large hail was reported across the state including at Spencer where softball sized hail fell twice, first with a storm around 10 am then again with another storm around 4 pm. Some of the storms also produced very heavy rainfall and flooding with accumulations of 4.75 inches at Emmetsburg, 5.14 inches at Decorah, and 6.10 inches at Mason City.
1918: A significant tornado outbreak occurred with at least 19 touching down in Iowa, including a particularly violent tornado that leveled farms on a path from near Denison through Carroll County to around Stanhope. As it passed through southeastern Webster County this storm nearly destroyed the small towns of Harcourt and Dayton and severely injured a number of children when their school wagon was struck. Another tornado touched down intermittently from near Berkley in Boone County to Wellsburg in Grundy County, killing 10 people and injuring nearly 100. A third storm struck areas around Newton and Kellogg killing several people and injuring dozens of others. In total approximately 19 people were killed and over 150 injured across Iowa.
1902: A burst of very heavy rain fell around and just north of Decorah during the early morning hours. Officially 3.35 inches of rain was measured in Decorah, but there were estimates of as much as six inches falling in a short time a few miles north of town. This brief downpour produced a severe flash flood which swept through the area damaging dozens of homes and killing at least three people. Large sections of railroad track and nearly all of the bridges in the area were destroyed or severely damaged with virtually all communication and transportation to and from the town cut off. Newspaper accounts indicated that the water rose very rapidly, with many creeks and streams jumping out of their banks within 30 minutes of the rainfall and the water sweeping through Decorah "at terrific speed". One house was carried three blocks by the flood, with the family inside escaping by cutting a hole in the roof and climbing into the second story of another residence against which theirs had lodged.
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The "On This Day in Iowa Weather History" feature contains some memorable weather events and trivia from the early 1800's to the present day for Iowa. Many sources were used to research and compile the data and the above information may represent official, unofficial, or estimated values. As noteworthy weather events occur, they will be added to the database.