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Hurricane-force winds tear through Quad Cities Saturday

More than 30,000 people were without power as winds of 90 MPH moved through.
Credit: WQAD
Top wind speeds reported to the National Weather Service Saturday

MOLINE, Ill. — Severe storms bringing hurricane-force winds battered the Quad Cities region Saturday evening with several reports of damage to trees and power lines. At one point Saturday evening, MidAmerican Energy reported nearly 30,000 customers without power in Illinois. As of Sunday morning, nearly 5,000 customers are still in the dark. 

The setup included an extremely unstable atmosphere that was loaded with high amounts of storm energy, or what meteorologists refer to as CAPE. Weather balloons are used to measure this energy, sent up twice per day. One at 7 am and another at 7 pm. The 7 pm evening balloon launch showed an extremely high level of storm energy reading of 7,513. We measure this in joules per kilogram. The combination of high moisture levels and hot temperatures that rose into the lower 90s for many produced this extreme level of instability by the late afternoon and evening. 

Credit: WQAD
The amount of storm energy present Saturday evening was extremely high.

We saw two rounds of severe weather, the first brought by a lone supercell thunderstorm with a history of producing very large hail in the Cedar Rapids area. The radar loop from Saturday shows this storm quickly aiming for the Quad Cities and then dissipating a short time later.

Credit: WQAD
Doppler Radar at 11:00am Saturday captured this lone supercell thunderstorm moving through Cedar County, Iowa

It was this initial storm that laid out an outflow boundary or a boundary created by rain-cooled air, that would further enhance some of the dynamics for storms that would arrive later that evening. 

Credit: WQAD
Doppler Radar captures the second round of severe thunderstorms pushing through the Quad Cities Saturday evening

The second round of storms quickly formed in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, turning severe rapidly and racing to the southeast. It wasn't long before widespread wind damage was reported across much of Iowa. 

In all, more than 100 storm reports were submitted to the National Weather Service office in the Quad Cities ranging from large hail to heavy rainfall, to damaging winds. 

Credit: WQAD
Top wind speeds recorded Saturday evening

The highest wind speed observed in the Quad Cities was 90 MPH at the airport in Davenport. Similarly, an 80 MPH wind gust was measured at the Quad City International Airport. 

Here are a few of the many photos submitted to us from around the Quad Cities. A big thank you to everyone who let us know what was going on while the storms were pushing through.