By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
While the weather has only been warm enough to be called spring for a couple of weeks, Washington County saw its first spring storm Wednesday night as a tornado warning was issued after rotation was spotted on radar by the National Weather Service.
Marissa Reisen, Washington County emergency management coordinator, said today that Wellman Fire Department and the Washington County Sheriff?s office had activated storm spotters in the area. She said that rotation was noted north of Wellman and that funnel clouds were spotted throughout the area, but none had hit the ground. She said there was a lightning strike in the City of Kalona that hit a power box.
?Our Alert Iowa messages came out immediately after the National Weather Service issued the warning,? she said. ?Sirens were set off in the City of Wellman for the tornado warning. That was the only place they were set off.?
Reisen said storm spotters were canceled after the weather associated with the tornado warning moved off into the Hills area.
The tornado warning was also issued in Johnson and Cedar counties, including Iowa City, West Branch and West Liberty. A severe thunderstorm warning was also issued for most of the area. The storm included damaging winds and hail.
She said the National Weather Service would do a damage assessment from the storm, but with an enhanced risk of continued hazardous weather, the service is waiting. Reisen said that the area is at high risk for continued severe weather this afternoon and evening.
According to the National Weather Service website, a Hazardous Weather Outlook has been issued for portions of north central Illinois, northwest Illinois, west central Illinois, east central Iowa, northeast Iowa, southeast Iowa and northeast Missouri.
Late this afternoon and evening, thunderstorms are expected with conditions favorable for severe storms. The greatest threats will be large hail up to the size of golf balls or larger and winds of 70 mph or more. Discrete supercells capable of producing tornadoes are also possible. Locally heavy rainfall is also possible of 2 inches or more that may produce flash flooding concerns are predicted. Flooding is expected along portions of the Mississippi River late this week and into the following week. Please see the latest Flood Statements and Flood Warnings for details.
Reisen said a conference call for Emergency Managers will be scheduled for later today.
Anyone caught in a tornado warning is advised to seek shelter immediately.