Destruction on Marty Danzer's farm.

The Dec. 15 storms in Iowa produced 23 tornadoes and the first-ever December derecho recorded in the U.S. (Photo courtesy of Marty and Lisa Danzer.)

December storms no gift to Iowa farmers

December 22, 2021 | Bethany Baratta

Holiday preparations got a little more complicated last week as farmers were left with the aftermath of severe weather.

Bizarre thunderstorms on Dec. 15 spun off 23 tornadoes in Iowa and the first December derecho ever recorded in the United States, according to the National Weather Service.

The 2020 derecho was stronger than the Dec. 15, 2021, event, producing peak wind gusts around 140 mph. Within the 36 counties hardest hit by the 2020 derecho, the storm had the greatest impact on 2.5 million acres of soybeans and 3.57 million acres of corn. Additionally, 57 million bushels of commercial grain storage were destroyed or severely damaged during the Aug. 10, 2020, event, according to the Iowa Department of Ag ad Land Stewardship.

The strongest gust recorded last week was 88 mph in Audubon, the National Weather Service said.

On Tom Vincent’s farm near Perry, storms destroyed a wet leg connecting the bin used for wet grain to the dryer. The leg fell on top of the wet bin roof and tore it up.

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) district 5 director says he’s awaiting estimates before he decides the next steps.

On ISA District 4 Director Marty Danzer’s farm near Carroll a tornado leveled a cattle barn and collapsed a machine shed. However, cattle and machinery were unscathed.

Danzer says he’s salvaging as many materials as he can as he prepares to rebuild.

“My big fear is getting materials,” he says, noting lumber shortages due to demand from new construction projects and rebuilding from storms elsewhere in the U.S. This is on top of already higher costs for supplies.

The five grain bins at the farm site were also untouched, due to strong yields this fall and a bit of luck. “The silver lining is that it didn’t take any bins because there were full,” Danzer says.