Iowa State Police confirm deaths, injuries as tornadoes tear through counties

Millions of people in states from the Great Plains to the Midwest were under the threat of tornadoes on Tuesday, including Iowa, where several tornadoes touched down near Des Moines, causing significant damage.

A “devastating” tornado struck the town of Greenfield, Iowa, located southwest of Des Moines, causing deaths and injuries in the area, reported Sgt. Alex Dinkla of the Iowa State Patrol said at a news conference Tuesday night.

The team at Adair County Memorial Hospital, which serves Greenfield, suffered damage from the tornado, Dinkla said, but still managed to treat patients and transport some to nearby hospitals for additional care.

Search efforts were underway Tuesday night, and officials were working to provide a clear and accurate count of those affected, the official said.

“We believe we have everyone identified, but we are conducting extensive searches to be thorough,” he said.

Nearly the entire state of Iowa was under a “particularly dangerous situation,” according to the National Weather Service, which issued several tornado warnings.

On Tuesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds authorized a disaster emergency proclamation for 15 counties across the state.

Counties include Adair, Adams, Cass, Clay, Hardin, Harrison, Jasper, Kossuth, Marshall, Montgomery, Page, Palo Alto, Pottawattamie, Tama and Warren.

Several videos obtained by ABC affiliate station WOI in Des Moines captured a large funnel cloud on the ground in Greenfield.

On Tuesday, WOI reporter Dana Searles, while surveying the damage in Des Moines, said, “This small community has a lot of it destroyed, but about half of it is still intact. From what I’ve seen, I’d estimate maybe 75% % is close to the ground right now.”

Damaging winds of 70 to 90 mph were forecast for Des Moines, Chicago and Milwaukee Tuesday afternoon into the evening.

Severe weather is in full swing across the Great Plains and Midwest, with more than 100 severe storms reported Monday from Colorado to Michigan.

At least three tornadoes were reported in Minnesota, Nebraska and Colorado on Monday, but there was no significant damage.

In Yuma, in northeastern Colorado, hail the size of golf balls and softballs hit the area, causing damage to cars and buildings. At one point, the hail was so deep that it caused several vehicles to get stuck, JJ Unger, a Yuma volunteer firefighter, told ABC News on Tuesday.

“It was like a blizzard that lasted half an hour because of the hail,” Unger said. “That’s the longest I’ve ever seen it hail like that.”

Unger said he and his fire crew were looking for possible tornadoes Monday night when lightning struck and hail began to fall.

“It was very intense,” Unger said, adding that he and his crew had to stop and seek shelter as visibility was almost zero.

Unger said when the hail finally subsided, a foot of hail covered his fire truck and area roads.

He said the windshields of his truck and his wife’s vehicle were shattered.

“Almost every house in the city has broken windows and I’ve heard that more than a thousand cars were damaged,” Unger said.

In Nebraska, hail two inches in diameter fell in Dundy County, in the southwest corner of the state, according to local emergency management officials. Winds over 90 mph were also reported in Dundy County.

With severe weather expected through Thursday across the Great Plains and Midwest, potential record heat is moving into Texas and the Northeast.

Temperatures could approach 90 degrees in Philadelphia, New York and Washington, DC, by the middle of this week.