Hails tones from 1994 storm

Hail stones that fell in Dubuque on Aug. 19, 1994.

Baseball-sized hail battered Dubuque during a sudden storm 25 years ago.

The smashed cars, windows, homes and businesses resulted in damage estimated at more than $100 million.

Damage claims flooded insurance companies in the wake of the storm on Aug. 19, 1994, and glass and roof repairs kept businesses busy for months.

Here is how the Telegraph Herald reported on the storm in its Aug. 20, 1994, edition.


The worst hail and wind storm in more than 20 years roared into Dubuque on Friday afternoon, pelting cars and houses with hail the size of tennis balls, toppling trees and power lines and flooding streets.

There were no reports of serious injury, but property losses were serious enough for the major insurance companies to dispatch their catastrophic claims crews to the Dubuque area.

Dubuque County Disaster Services Director Bob Gooch said it would be several days before a damage estimate could be made.

“We haven’t had anything like this in the 20 years I’ve been here,” he said.

Emergency crews were still trying to clear a number of streets in Dubuque late Friday night. Power was still out in numerous isolated areas, including the Mount Carmel nursing home, where Gooch said several residents were on life support.

The Finley Hospital reported that five people had come into the emergency room with storm-related injuries. Mercy Health Center St. Joseph’s Unit reported that three people had checked in with storm-related injuries.

Both hospitals said the injuries were a mix of people struck by hail, hurt with glass from broken windshields or windows, and some who slipped and fell.

The storm blew through at about 3:45 p.m. as many people in the downtown area were getting ready to head home from work.

There were numerous reports of car windows broken.

There were reports of heavy damage at Hempstead High School due to broken windows and flooding. Damage also was reported at two companies — William C. Brown, Flexsteel — and CyCare Plaza. KDUB-TV was knocked off the air when lightning struck its tower.

Most of the severe wind and hail damage was reported on the north and west ends of Dubuque. The storm tracked to the east. Wind, hail and heavy rain were reported in Jo Daviess, Grant and Lafayette counties.

The storm downed trees at a trailer court in Sageville, Iowa. One trailer was crushed, but nobody was in the trailer at the time.

At least half of the trailers had windows broken by hail.

“This was larger than golf-ball size — I’d say it was about the size of tennis balls,” said Faith Eichman, who owns the trailer court with her husband, Milton.

Paul Behr’s Dubuque neighborhood resembled a war zone after hail the size of “snowball” bombarded the sides of houses, breaking windows, denting siding and leaving the streets filled with limbs and other debris.

“We’ve got four or five windows broken out,” Behr said, as he assessed damage to his house on Garfield Avenue. “Boy, it was banging. It was hitting the windows so hard you were just waiting for the windows to break.”

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