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Storms cut large swathStorms cut large swath

Widespread damage includes Iowa airportWidespread damage includes Iowa airport

Editor's note: This article was updated June 25 to include new information.
  • Aftermath of the June 22 storm at the airport in Sheldon, Iowa. Photo courtesy of Kari Vust/Midwest Flying Service, Inc.
  • A National Weather Service team determined the damage at Sheldon Municipal Airport (also known as Sheldon Regional Airport) was caused by straight-line winds. Photo courtesy of Kari Vust/Midwest Flying Service, Inc.
  • Daylight revealed severe damage to five aircraft. Photo courtesy of Kari Vust/Midwest Flying Service, Inc.
  • Wind blasted a hangar, lifting and rotating the main door. Photo courtesy of Kari Vust/Midwest Flying Service, Inc.
  • The wind at Sheldon Municipal Airport destroyed one hangar but left other buildings intact. Photo courtesy of Kari Vust/Midwest Flying Service, Inc.
  • Photo courtesy of Kari Vust/Midwest Flying Service, Inc.

Security cameras at Sheldon Municipal Airport in Sheldon, Iowa, captured the arrival of powerful winds that destroyed a hangar.

In the predawn hours June 22, the automated weather station at Sheldon Municipal Airport in Sheldon, Iowa, clocked a 95 mph wind gust and security cameras captured flashes of debris.

“It took the hangar doors and it flipped them around and turned them upside down,” said Kari Vust, who has run the airport (also known as Sheldon Regional Airport) and the FBO with her husband, Lyle, for 25 years without seeing destruction on this scale. Five aircraft were damaged as winds tore one of the hangars to pieces. “It destroyed four of them, cut two of them right in half.”

The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center continued to forecast severe thunderstorms on June 25, with areas of heightened risk extending from the Plains to the Mid-Atlantic. The storm potential was expected to diminish June 26, following days of battering across much of the country.

The cleanup in Sheldon began even as forecasters watched for more trouble to come. Contractors will need two weeks to restore power to the fuel farm and runway lights, which had been routed through the hangar. Other buildings were spared, and Vust remained unconvinced on June 23 by the National Weather Service's official conclusion that the powerful wind event was not among the tornadoes that damaged homes and caused injuries across a wide swath of the Midwest and High Plains.

“It was interesting,” Vust said in a telephone interview, describing selective damage and twisted treetops. Nearby structures, and even a vintage T-33 Shooting Star that was not tied down were spared. Damage at the airport was estimated in dollar terms at $500,000; Vust said all but one of the affected aircraft was insured, the exception being a kitplane in progress.

“He’s worked on it for five years,” Vust said, adding that the owner is battling health problems and “wanted to fly it before he couldn’t.”

The weather trouble began the day before: Kansas City International Airport lost power for about 20 minutes on June 21 as storms hit Missouri; this turned out to be a prelude to more widespread severe weather that included a dozen tornado reports on June 22, along with a long-duration squall line known as a derecho that cut a swath across portions of South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Coal City, Illinois, was among the locations hit by a tornado that left some residents trapped in the rubble of their homes.

Severe weather continued east, causing power outages, flipping cars, and damaging homes on June 23 and 24. NBC 10 in Philadelphia reported more than 140,000 outages. Straight-line winds associated with a macroburst tore apart buildings in Gloucester County, New Jersey, where winds exceeded 85 mph. Winds of similar power blew the roof off a fire station in Mantua, New Jersey.

Damage extended north into Connecticut, with tens of thousands of power outages, uprooted trees, and other damage reported there. Severe weather continued to cause trouble across much of the country on June 24, with cleanup efforts underway from Colorado to Maine, and south into Virginia.  

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Editor-Web
Editor-Web Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
Topics: Airport, Weather, Weather

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