This photo shows the tornado that bore down on Lake Panorama Sunday night.
This photo shows the tornado that bore down on Lake Panorama Sunday night.
May 12, 2014

Thunderstorms dumped more than an inch of rain in the Carroll area Sunday, but damage from winds was minimal compared to what the storms dealt other Iowa communities.

"We didn't have nothing here, not even a branch down," said Ken Pingrey, chief deputy for the Carroll County Sheriff's office.

Others weren't so lucky. The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings for nearby Greene and Guthrie Counties that night, and Lake Panorama, a popular resort near Panora, sustained perhaps the heaviest damage in the state.

No one was injured at Lake Panorama, in part, because many who frequent the spot for boating and fishing had gone home for the weekend, said Randy Holl, senior administrative assistant for the Lake Panorama Association.

"The main damage was at the (Boulder Cove) Condos," he said. "Eight units - those are extensively damaged with roofs taken off, walls down. It's just west of the golf course, and there is a lot of tree damage on the course. Some good-sized ones broke completely off. Lots of split trunks of ashes and maples."

Walt Brammer, 88, a condo resident, said he rode out the storm in his bathroom.

"I could hear the winds roar," he said, "so I just put my hands over my head and let the stuff fall in."

Some jet skis on or near the water were swept long distances away by the high winds, Holl said.

"There are pieces of metal roofing and sheds that have gone a long way," he said.

The Weather Service had no immediate reports of wind speeds at Lake Panorama, but meteorologists can estimate the speeds based on damage, which they are reviewing today.

Parts of Greene County had quarter-sized hail and heavy rain, but no tornado was reported there. Like Carroll, no heavy branches or fallen trees were reported, said Steve Haupert, the Greene County sheriff.

Some residents lost electrical power in the storms, including a man who lives in a rural area of southern Greene County who depends on an oxygen tank to breathe and needed a deputy's assistance to load the tanks into his vehicle so he could drive to a nearby hospital for help, according to a sheriff's report.

Carroll has had nearly 3 inches of rain this month, with 1.29 inches of it from the Sunday storms, according to the National Weather Service's Johnston office. Winds had sustained speeds of 24 mph and gusts of 40 about 9:30 p.m., the Weather Service reported.

Total precipitation for Carroll this year is 8.46 inches, which is slightly less than the 9.16 that typically falls by now, State Climatologist Harry Hillaker said.

But May has been 1.7 inches wetter than usual.

"We're a little ahead so far this month, but of course a lot of that was within the last 24 hours," Hillaker said.

Data from the U.S. Drought Monitor show that the northern half of Carroll County is under severe drought conditions - which it has been for months - while the southern half is under moderate conditions.

To climb out of the overall drought, Carroll County needs about an inch of rain per week, Hillaker said.

"Something close to this for the next several weeks would really go a long ways for putting us in good shape," he said. "Soil-moisture levels, especially subsoil levels, have been quite low because of how dry it was the second half of last year. This doesn't really have much impact right now just because you don't have crops in the ground and aren't using any of this moisture yet."

While there are no issues with the soil moisture now, Hillaker said, more rain will help eliminate a shortage before June and July when evaporation exceeds rainfall.

The Weather Service forecast for this week shows scattered showers today. A low-pressure weather system is predicted to move into the area for a cool week with temperatures in the 60s Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday with a low of 40 overnight.

- Reporters Ashley Schable and Kelsey Bruggeman contributed to this article