A flurry of tornadoes that formed unexpectedly swept through central Iowa Thursday, injuring at least 17 people, flattening buildings in three cities and forcing the evacuation of a hospital.
The tornadoes hit Marshalltown, Pella and Bondurant as surprised residents ran for cover.
The storms injured 10 people in Marshalltown and seven at a factory near Pella, but no deaths were reported.
Marshalltown, about 50 miles northeast of Des Moines, appeared to have been hit the hardest.
Brick walls collapsed in the streets, roofs were blown off buildings and the cupola of the historic courthouse tumbled 175 feet to the ground.
UnityPoint Health, the only hospital in Marshalltown, was damaged and all 40 of the patients were being transferred to the health system’s larger hospital in Waterloo as well as one in Grundy Center.
Additional funnels were reported as the storm moved east of Des Moines past Altoona, Prairie City and Colfax.
National Weather Service meteorologist Rod Donavon said two primary storms spawned the series of damaging tornadoes.
One developed in the Marshalltown area, causing damage there, while the other started east of Des Moines and traveled through Bondurant and into Pella.
The exact number of tornadoes and their strength will be determined later.
AP story/Photo courtesy Tornado Tailgaters