Updated: Small Tornado Strikes Iowa Wind Farm

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A small tornado touches down in an Iowa wind farm.
A small tornado touches down in an Iowa wind farm. (Source: BigRollingHome – YouTube)
(Updated 4-19-2024: Since this article was originally published, the National Weather Service has confirmed that at least 15 tornadoes struck Iowa during Tuesday’s severe weather outbreak. This included a long-track EF2 in southeast Iowa that stayed on the ground for 42 miles, and a strong EF1 / borderline EF2 right here in Buchanan County that carved a path 11 miles long.)

During yesterday’s severe weather, wind turbines in Iowa came dangerously close to being struck by a tornado.

Video footage and photos taken during Tuesday’s severe weather outbreak show a tornado touching down in a field full of wind turbines. The dramatic video, posted to Facebook by user ‘BigRollingHome’ (the video is below this article) shows the tornado moving behind one turbine, while a portion of the video about a minute later shows the debris cloud in front of another turbine further in the distance, proof that the tornado was not behind the wind farm, but going right through it. In addition, because of the high wind conditions, the turbines were stopped. But when the tornado approaches one of the turbines, the blades start spinning anyway, indicating that the brakes were not sufficient to stand up against the force of even a small tornado.

Fortunately, this was indeed, a small tornado. Judging from the video, it was probably an EF0 or EF1 at most, and it appears there was no significant damage. But what if it had been an EF3 or even an EF4? The turbine blades likely would have been ripped clean off and become air-to-ground missiles that could easily penetrate completely through walls of buildings. Depending on the strength of the tornado, how long it remains on the ground, and how fast it is moving, the buildings that get hit with these missiles could be miles away from where the turbine was originally located.

For those who want to claim this is an isolated incident, it is not:

  • In late March of 2023, a reporter for KGAN filmed a substantial tornado forming and touching down near a wind farm by Brooklyn, Iowa.
  • In March of 2022, an EF3 tornado tore through a wind farm in Jack County, Texas, completely destroying multiple turbines and depositing large pieces of turbine blades miles away.
  • In September of 2017, Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, destroying hundreds of wind turbines and once again, sending blades and pieces of blades flying for miles.

Iowa is prone to severe weather, including tornadoes. According to the National Weather Service, in 2023, Iowa had 72 confirmed tornadoes, including an EF4 in Keokuk County that stayed on the ground for 20 miles. In Buchanan and Benton counties alone, we had 6 confirmed tornadoes, including an EF2 that touched down in Buchanan County near Cheney and stayed on the ground for 5 miles, crossing into Benton county before it dissipated. In an average year, Iowa has 267% more tornadoes than the national average. Fortunately, because the majority of our land is farmland, we rarely have deaths or serious injuries from tornadoes. There just isn’t enough hazardous debris for tornadoes to pick up and throw around.

But that will change if we keep covering our farmland with 500+ foot tall wind turbines with 200+ foot long blades that each weigh 35 tons (almost as much as a fully loaded semi). 200+ foot long 35 ton missiles that can be thrown into houses and other buildings more than a mile away from the turbine.

We learned our lesson about nuclear power plants with Fukushima Daiichi. We don’t build nuclear power plants in earthquake prone areas anymore. Perhaps we should not build commercial wind farms in areas that are prone to tornadoes either.

Massive damage to Texas wind farm after being struck by a tornado
Massive damage to Texas wind farm after being struck by an EF3 tornado. (Source: Meteorologist Payton Malone – WWLTV)


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I'm a freelance writer who has published multiple technical books on computer programming, software engineering, and UNIX administration. I'm also a long time resident of rural Buchanan County who owns and takes care of rescue horses. I am interested in preserving our rural farm land for the future of both our children and our animals.

One thought on “Updated: Small Tornado Strikes Iowa Wind Farm

  1. This article is pretty scary — as if tornadoes weren’t scary enough! Even without the help of a tornado, or even a straight line wind like the one that did so much damage in Vinton a few years ago, turbines can throw blades an incredible distance. I can’t even imagine the force behind one (or several) of those blades if a tornado is involved. You may get surprised by one while in your home or your car because you thought you were far enough away from the tornado, itself. Or you may end up attempting to pick up all the pieces of fiberglass from your field, which will never really be clean again. Wind turbines are not the answer for Buchanan County.

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