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NE Iowa Prone to Violent Tornadoes

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- A little known fact about NE Iowa is that it's one of the most fertile breeding grounds in the nation for violent tornadoes.

When conditions are ripe, they can produce super cell thunderstorms.the ones capable of spitting out strong tornadoes.

The power of tornadoes is measured by the EF-scaledeveloped by renowned tornado researcher Ted Fujita.

Any storm with winds of 136 mph or greater is considered to be violent. But when tornadoes reach winds of more than 200 mph, they are considered to be so rarethey are in an elite classification known as EF-5.

Since 1965 only 42 of these extreme twisters have touched down in the United States. Five of those have occurred in Iowa.

The only state with more is Alabama and not by much with just 6.

In fact, all 5 of Iowa's EF5 tornadoes have been on the ground within 55 miles of Parkersburg. In other words, the area surrounding Butler and Blackhawk counties seems to be one of the nation's epicenters for violent tornadoes, especially the dreaded EF5.

Even more alarming is that since 1965, 33 of Iowa's 75 tornado related deaths have occurred in the 55 mile radius of Parkersburg. Put another way, nearly half of Iowa's tornado fatalities have occurred in just 4 of the state's 99 counties. Two thirds of those deaths occurred in Butler and Floyd Counties.

Clearly, there's a focused hotspot of tornado activity that surrounds Parkersburg and NE Iowa.

Iowa's tornado activity peaks during the months of May and June when 60% of the state's touchdowns occur. The mostly likely time is between the hours of 4 and 6pm during the peak heating of the day.

Stay with CBS 2 all week as Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails takes us Inside the Storm on a mission to keep your family safe. You'll have a front row seat as Terry and his experienced team chase some of nature's most ferocious weather. You'll be able to follow along live on cbs2iowa.com and follow Terry on the air during all CBS 2 and Fox 28 newscasts and socially on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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