Officials from Madison County emergency management said that four people were also injured when the tornado struck the area southwest Des Moines around 4:30 p.m. Children and adults were among the victims.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster declaration for the county. This allows state resources to help with recovery and response efforts.
Reynolds stated, "Our hearts go out for all those who were affected by the deadly hurricanes that tore through our State today." "While our hearts are broken, I know Iowans will come together and help in this time. They already are."
Diogenes Ayala, Madison County Emergency Management Director, said that 25-30 homes were severely damaged by the tornado.
He said, "This is one of the most horrific things anyone has ever seen in a very long while."
Officials did not identify the victims, but they weren't all at the same place.
Wendy Burkett shared with the Des Moines Register that she was in her house with her two daughters Saturday afternoon when Tony, her husband called her from a shed nearby and warned her of a tornado warning.
Burkett claimed that she went outside with him and looked down the driveway towards the southwest. "And then, we saw it. She said, "The tornado." "There was debris all around, and it was getting louder."
As the tornado roared past, they ran with their daughters to their basement. She said that as they held onto each other, a window broke and water started leaking from the pipes.
The tornado passed within a matter of minutes, and the family was not hurt. However, their home was in complete destruction, with debris everywhere, even in trees.
Later Saturday, the National Weather Service in Des Moines tweeted that initial photos and videos of the damage to Winterset indicated it was at most an EF-3 tornado capable of causing severe destruction on the Enhanced Fujita scale. The National Weather Service in Des Moines tweeted that they would continue to assess the damage and give a possible rating.
Thunderstorms that produced tornadoes swept through Iowa between Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. Storms also caused damage in Norwalk, a suburb of Des Moines, and other parts of eastern Iowa.
Officials said that many homes had been damaged and roads blocked by fallen lines. Tree branches were also shredded by strong winds. Images shared on social media showed fallen trees, debris, damaged roofs, and vehicles. Around 10,000 people were affected by power outages in Des Moines.