The town of Greenfield, Iowa, resembled a war zone on Thursday with uprooted trees and overturned cars in all directions and splintered wood that was once part of homes and businesses.

Residents searched for belongings and family heirlooms in the rubble left by a devastating tornado that ripped through the community, killing four people.

A swarm of at least 26 twisters roared through Greenfield and other parts of Iowa and five other Midwestern states on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.


The funnel cloud that tore through Greenfield was confirmed by the National Weather Service to be an EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with maximum wind speeds reaching 185 mph. It was on the ground for approximately 44 miles.

A fifth person was killed in what is believed to be a tornado-related incident about 25 miles from Greenfield, officials said.

Besides those killed, 35 people were injured in Greenfield, which is about 60 miles southwest of Des Moines.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday that at least 202 homes in Iowa were destroyed or sustained major damage. She said she expanded a disaster declaration from 15 to 32 counties and has submitted an application for disaster relief to FEMA and the White House.

“Hearing the stories from residents who barely escaped with their lives is both heartbreaking and inspiring,” Reynolds said. “Our deepest condolences go out to those who lost loved ones.”

Donna Dubberke, the meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service office in Des Moines, said the agency surveyed three separate long-track tornadoes that left destructive paths totaling 130 miles. Dubberke said Iowa was in store for more severe weather Thursday night.

“It’s very heartbreaking,” Greenfield resident Cam Harter told ABC News as she and her husband, Jay Harter, sifted through the rubble of their home of 26 years.

“These are the stairs that led to the basement,” Cam Harter pointed out. “The whole top part is gone. The garage back there, a two-and-a-half car garage, is gone.”

Even metal grain silos could not withstand the powerful storm, leaving many of them crumpled as if they were tin cans. Several towering wind turbines were also knocked over, including one that caught on fire.

More than 200 severe storms were reported Wednesday from New York to Texas.

2024 has been the most active tornado season to date since 2017 with 859 tornadoes reported so far. The average number of tornadoes from January to May this year is 578.

More severe weather is forecast through the Memorial Day weekend for a huge part of the Heartland from the Dakotas all the way south to Texas, including the major cities of Dallas, Oklahoma City, Wichita, Kansas City, Omaha and Fargo.

Damaging winds and large hail will be the biggest threat on Friday but the possibility of a few potential tornadoes cannot be ruled out from northern Texas to Nebraska.

On Friday, severe weather is expected from Dallas to Chicago with damaging winds and hail being the biggest possible threat.


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