This wasn't a garden variety line of thunderstorms today! Three friends of mine in the meteorology department apparently spotted a tornado on the ISU campus near our department's building. There's a swath of pretty extensive tree damage extending from near Science I (far left, half of it's cut off in the picture) to the ISU power plant (right side)
. Guess where the meteorology department is? Agronomy Hall, right smack in the middle! All the trees in the Agronomy courtyard are a total mess. One of them (about a foot and a half in diameter) fell against the east wing and blocked the exit on that side, and another one of about the same size also came down. There were about six or eight trees there, and only one or two of them escaped any major damage. There were rumors going around that a tree fell on someone in front of Science I, but I also heard that the guy was able to get out of the way just in time. A huge two to three foot diameter tree on central campus was pretty much cleaved in half, and another meteorology friend of mine got pictures of it on her camera phone.
There has been some argument over whether that was all just straight-line wind damage instead of a tornado, since many have correctly pointed out that all the trees fell in the same direction. However, Eric (a met grad student here) did see a tiny little rope tornado form near the power plant, and there was a very nice hook echo that passed directly over campus on radar ahead of the main line, so I believe that there was actually a tornado. However, the winds were severe strength on their own, and most of the damage was probably a combination of the tornado and winds together. In fact, our little weather station on top of Agronomy measured a peak gust of 83 mph around the time of the tornado report, so it all adds up.
I'm disappointed that I didn't see anything. I was here at the apartment having lunch with Jeremy, and we were watching the shelf cloud move in ahead of the storm, but I'm blocked on all sides here to where I can't see much. Now I've come home from lab early to find that Jeremy's not even here anymore, so he must have heard about the damage from somewhere and went to check it out for himself. I wish I could have gone with him, but meh. I saw it all on my walk home. Now there's going to be some kind of mad media blitz. When I heard that a tornado was reported (no matter how piddly it actually was), I laughed right then and said, "Oh, I can see it now. The media's going to go nuts over it and say 'TORNADO STRIKES ISU CAMPUS!!!'" Sure enough, I saw a KCCI van, and WHO van, AND a fucking helicopter flying overhead as I was coming home.