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Eastern Iowa sees pair of twisters; first January tornadoes since 1967

Iowa hasn't seen January twisters since 1967, but two briefly touched down in Williamsburg and Ely on Jan. 16.

IOWA, USA — It's been more than half a century since the state of Iowa has seen tornadoes in January.

On Monday, Jan. 16., two tornadoes were spotted in Eastern Iowa, and both were reported touching down. One touched down for 8 minutes in Williamsburg starting around 2 p.m., and the other in Ely for less than a minute just before 3 p.m.

News 8 spoke with Rich Kinney, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities, who said it's been a long time since Iowa has seen a tornado in January.

"The last recorded January tornadoes: Jan. 24, 1967," Kinney said.

According to the National Weather Service, the tornado northeast of Williamsburg was considered an EF-1 on the Fujita scale, which classifies a tornado based on wind speeds and damage left behind.

"Fortunately, no injuries and no real significant damage with that tornado, Northeast of Williamsburg," Kinney said. "We also had just a very brief touchdown, and that was near Ely, which is south of Cedar Rapids. That was in an open area. And there was no damage that we could observe with which to assign a rating."

The National Weather Service in the Quad Cities typically staffs at least two operational meteorologists, 24/7, 365 days a year. For this weather occurrence, they had six people in the operations area.

"In our part of the country, just kind of outlines the fact that folks really need to be prepared for severe weather year-round," Kinney said. "Especially when we get some of these unseasonably mild days."

The state of Iowa averages 48 tornadoes annually.

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