A survey team from the National Weather Service has determined that storm damage in Vinton was caused by an EF-2 tornado early Sunday morning (July 17, 2016).

The tornado, with peak winds of 135 miles per hour, carved a 1.6 mile-long path of destruction that was 100 yards wide. The twister damaged buildings, trees, a baseball field, and a cell phone tower as it tracked across the southern part of the city.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), the tornado touched down at 5:01 a.m. and was on the ground for two minutes. Five people suffered minor injuries. Eleven people stayed in a Red Cross shelter Sunday night.

NWS officials said the tornado damaged the baseball field at Vinton-Shellsburg High School, then tore the roofs off of several multi-family buildings. From there, the twister intensified as it struck a brick apartment building, which was unroofed and had parts of the walls blown out.

The tornado then knocked down a cell phone tower and apparently began to weaken as it continued across a large field, NWS officials said. The roofs of another eight homes were damaged as the tornado exited Vinton and continued into farmland where it dissipated.

On Monday, Governor Terry Branstad issued a “proclamation of disaster emergency” for Benton and three other counties that were hit by Sunday's severe weather. The proclamation allows the use of state resources for recovery efforts and activates a program that provides grants of up to $5,000 for households that meet certain income requirements.

The grant application and instructions are available on the Iowa Department of Human Services website.