UPDATE: EF-3 tornado hit 3 counties, including Albia - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: EF-3 tornado hit 3 counties, including Albia

Posted: Updated:
ALBIA (AP) - Officials are now confirming a tornado did touch down and damage homes and a grocery store in Albia on Monday.

A National Weather Service storm survey done Tuesday reported a tornado touched down from southeast of Columbia in Marion County around 5:22 p.m. Monday, briefly entered Lucas County, then entered Monroe County and ended about 6.4 miles southeast of Albia around 6:08 p.m.

That tornado damaged one house about 6.5 miles southwest of Lovilia.

The tornado traveled approximately 25.2 miles and was about 440 yards wide at its maximum size. The tornado's winds maxed out at 142 miles per hour, according to officials.

The preliminary rating for the tornado was an EF-3 near Marysville, but by the time it reached Albia it had downgraded to an EF-1.

Businesses and houses on the southwest side of Albia sustained EF-1 damage, with winds from 86 to 110 miles per hour.

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ORIGINAL STORY:

The National Weather Service is sending a survey team to southern Iowa to check damage and confirm a suspected tornado that ripped into a grocery store and nearby homes.

An estimated 40 to 50 Hy-Vee store employees and customers in Albia took shelter in the store cooler when the storm struck Monday evening. It shattered store windows and sent glass flying into a nearby neighborhood. Homes in the area lost roofs and windows as well.

Trees and power lines were knocked down around the city, which is about 70 miles southeast of Des Moines, but no injuries have been reported.

In northwest Iowa, straight-line winds approaching 100 mph destroyed a hangar at Sheldon Regional Airport and disabled five aircraft on Monday. Assistant Sheldon fire chief Randy Harms says firefighters and a hazmat unit were called out to contain airplane fuel that spilled.

According to KWWL Meteorologist Eileen Loan, even if damage was caused by straight-line winds instead of a tornado, those winds can still cause a fair amount of damage.

"Anytime there is an object in the way of the wind, the wind will go around it, which creates a bend in the wind," Loan said. "I have noticed many trees damaged that sometimes look twisted, but that is because they are whipping in the wind and happen to snap on one of the twists. I have also seen a house moved off of its foundation due to 120-mph straight-line winds down by Iowa City in 1999.

"Straight win damage can be worse than some tornadoes," she added. "An EF-0 tornado has winds usually between 65 and 85 mph. We had the bow echo producing winds in excess of 75 mph in many areas yesterday morning."

Loan noted that if the National Weather Service found out new information, they would send an update to KWWL.

Eileen Loan and Amie Steffeneicher contributed to this report.
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