Four people died and at least 35 were injured when a tornado devastated a small town in Iowa on Tuesday, officials have said.

It is believed the number of injured people injured in Greenfield is higher, the Iowa Department of Public Safety said on Wednesday.

The tornado left a swath of obliterated homes, splintered trees and crumpled cars in the town of 2,000 inhabitants about 55 miles south west of Des Moines.

About 25 miles southwest of Greenfield, a woman died on Tuesday when the vehicle she was driving was blown off the road near Corning, Iowa, the Adams County Sheriff’s office said.

Severe Weather Iowa
People examine damage after the tornado ripped through Greenfield, Iowa (Hannah Fingerhut/AP)

Crews were searching through mounds of debris on Wednesday to be sure no victims remained buried.

“It’s still a search mission as far as we’re looking to be sure all residents are accounted for,” said Iowa State Patrol Sargeant Alex Dinkla.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said FEMA’s administrator would head to Iowa on Thursday and that the White House was in touch with state and local officials. She said they were “praying for those who tragically lost their lives” and wished those injured a “speedy recovery.”

Greenfield’s 25-bed hospital was among the damaged buildings, and at least a dozen people who were hurt had to be taken to facilities elsewhere.

In a Facebook post, hospital officials said the hospital would remain closed until it could be further assessed and that full repairs could take weeks or months.

With the help of other providers, the hospital set up an urgent care clinic at an elementary school with primary care services to start there on Thursday, the post said.

Severe Weather Iowa
The remains of two tornado-damaged wind turbines touch the ground in a field near Prescott, Iowa (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Greenfield resident Kimberly Ergish, 33, and her husband dug through the debris field that used to be their home, looking for family photos and other salvageable items. There was not much left, she acknowledged.

“Most of it we can’t save,” she said. “But we’re going to get what we can.”

She said the reality of having her house destroyed in seconds has not really set in.

“If it weren’t for all the bumps and bruises and the achy bones, I would think that it didn’t happen,” she said.

The twister also ripped apart and crumpled massive power-producing wind turbines several miles outside the town.

Severe Weather Iowa
Local residents clean up debris from tornado damaged homes in Greenfield (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Storms pummeled parts of Illinois and Wisconsin later on Tuesday, knocking out power to tens of thousands of customers. The severe weather turned south on Wednesday and the National Weather Service issued tornado and flash flood warnings in Texas as parts of the state—including Dallas—were under a tornado watch.

Tuesday’s destructive weather also saw flooding and power outages in Nebraska, damage from tornadoes in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and dust storms in Illinois that forced two interstates to be closed.

AccuWeather chief meteorologist Jon Porter said the tornado appeared to have been on the ground for more than 40 miles.

The deadly twister was spawned during a historically bad season for tornadoes in the US when climate change is heightening the severity of storms worldwide. April had the second-highest number of tornadoes on record in the country.

According to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, through to Tuesday, there have been 859 confirmed tornadoes this year, 27% more than the US sees on average. So far, Iowa has had the most, with 81 confirmed twisters.

On Tuesday alone, the National Weather Service said it received 23 tornado reports, with most in Iowa and one each in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Mr Porter said the tornado that decimated parts of Greenfield brought to life the worst-case scenario in Iowa that weather forecasters had feared.

“Debris was lifted thousands of feet in the air and ended up falling to the ground several counties away from Greenfield. That’s evidence of how intense and deadly this tornado was,” Mr Porter said.