The death toll from a hurricane that struck the US state of Iowa on Saturday has reached at least seven, including two children under the age of 5, officials said Sunday.

Deadly tornadoes, including children, in Iowa
Image of hurricane damage from the governor's Twitter account

Six of the dead were from Madison County, as well as four injured, including a person who was hospitalized in critical condition, while a person living in a vehicle died in rural Lucas County, county officials confirmed.

The hurricane season in that area began earlier, and hit worse than forecasters expected, according to the Washington Post .

The Met Office wrote on Twitter that damage near Winterst was consistent with a hurricane that would have a rating of at least 3 on the 0 to 5 scale of hurricane intensity.

Violent winds swept an area along Carver Road, about three miles outside of Winterst, and authorities estimated that 20 to 30 homes on either side of the road were destroyed, with damage outside the city.

360 VR video of the large wedge tornado that hit Winterset Iowa will be posted soon. For now, heres a screenshot. #iawx #tornado

— Chris Riske (@RiskeChris) March 6, 2022

Local volunteers and churches have stepped in to provide shelter for displaced Iowans.

The storms left thousands of residents without power until late Saturday.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds declared the area a "disaster zone" to divert state resources to cleanup and relief efforts.

I joined with local leaders to tour the devastating damage in Madison County today. It was absolutely heartbreaking to see firsthand the destruction left behind but it was even more overwhelming to see the outpouring of support from volunteers.

— Gov. Kim Reynolds (@IAGovernor) March 6, 2022

The cold snap was accompanied by 80-mph winds and severe weather spread to northern Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, southern Wisconsin and western Ohio.

Late last year, an unusual wave of late fall tornadoes caused a great deal of damage across Iowa.

The Weather Service warned of strong storms on Monday in areas from northern Alabama to West Virginia.

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