Adams county, Iowa
On August 2, 2015, a severe thunderstorm system made its way across Adams County. By 6:20 p.m., the storm had produced an EF-1 tornado. The worst damage happened about 8 miles north-northeast of Prescott. The tornado traveled south before turning northeast. According to the National Weather Service, the storm touched down at 6:25 and lasted close to 25 minutes. The storm’s path was 350 yards wide and four miles long; winds were recorded at upwards of 100 miles-per-hour.
A resident of Lenox, Mike Gillespie, witnessed the storm just as it switched to the northeast, missing his parents’ farm in Williamson. Instead, the storm turned to rip up a field and a farm on its way to Prescott.
Gillespie reflected, “I’ve seen tornadoes before, but this was much bigger, much scarier. It was just insane and crazy. It sounded like a train coming through with the roars and everything. It was wild.”
One of the many buildings damaged in the storm was a century-old farm in Adams County.
Jim Lee, a meteorologist with the Des Moines Weather Service, said, “It was mostly damage to farm outbuildings, trees, vehicles, things of that nature. There was some minor damage to a few homes.” Thankfully, no one was injured during the storm.
Bob Walter, a homeowner close to Mike Gillespie, saw the damage firsthand. “I mean you could just see roofs and pieces of equipment just up in the air…I mean I have some pieces of equipment I can’t even find, I’m sure it’s down the road some place.” Walter told a local newspaper that he was surprised his house is still standing and estimated the area’s damages to surpass a million dollars.
In the nearby town of Prescott, resident Ashley Crill and her family were celebrating her mother-in-law’s birthday with a grill out on Sunday night when they watched the tornado form. She reported seeing the tornado destroy crops, silos, and trees.
“When it was in full force, it sounded like a train,” Crill said. “It was very intense.”
Once Crill and her family were out of immediate danger, they traveled towards Williamson to see the damage – and reconstruction – firsthand.
“Being in a small community, people go over to check on each other,” Crill said. “There were people patching the roof of a neighbor minutes after the storm had hit. It’s nice to know your neighbors have your back.”
Sources: “Tornado Leaves Path of Destruction in Adams County,” 13WHOtv, 2015; Dar Danielson, “Adams County Tornado Labeled an EF-1,” Radio Iowa, 2015; “Confirmed Tornado in Adams County,” 13Whotv, 2015; Danielle Ferguson, “Surprise Storms Produce Tornadoes in SW Iowa,” Des Moines Register, 2015; Andrew Nelson, “NWS Released Details of Tornado in Adams County, Iowa,” Omaha World-Herald, 2015;