Monday, April 18, 2016

20th Anniversary of Illinois' Largest Tornado Outbreak

The 20th anniversary of Illinois' largest tornado outbreak on record will be marked Tuesday, April 19 (the outbreak occurred in 1996). After surveys were conducted, a total of 39 tornadoes touched down across the state causing 74 injuries, one fatality, and a damage estimate in excess of $100 million. Ten of those tornadoes spawned from one supercell thunderstorm that produced an F2 tornado in Jacksonville and F3 strength tornadoes in Decatur, Champaign/Urbana, and Ogden. Before that supercell entered central Illinois, another supercell thunderstorm dropped two tornadoes in Coles County and two more in Edgar County. Both of Edgar County's tornadoes touched down just northwest of Paris. One touched down at 5:10 p.m., three miles northwest of Paris, destroying a barn. It continued east-northeast and damaged six farms in the area, including the destruction of several machine sheds, a couple barns, and grain bins. One residence had moderate roof damage and another had broken windows caused by baseball-sized hail. The tornado lifted at 5:16 p.m. after crossing Highway 1 three miles north of Paris. It was later rated as an F1 tornado with a max width of 440 yards. The other tornado touched down at 5:12 p.m. 1.5 miles north-northwest of Paris, near Cherry Point Rd. and County Rd. 200W, destroying a machine shed. It lifted briefly and touched down again at the intersection of Steidle Rd. and Tucker Beach Rd., damaging a 3-car garage. It continued east-northeast and damaged another machine shed, numerous trees, and a baseball field. At Twin Lakes Park, several benches, trees and a small shed were damaged. It traveled across the lake and flipped a boat lift, before dissipating at 5:16 p.m. This tornado was rated an F0 tornado with a max width of 220 yards. Had this tornado occurred present day, it would have traveled across the parking lot on the Paris High School campus just south of the railroad crossing. Several windows were blown out of homes in Brocton as well as Paris where golf ball-sized hail fell. Information about the tornadoes is courtesy of the National Weather Service office in Lincoln.

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