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Illinois weathering unusually stormy spring as tornado count climbs

 A tractor parked on a heap of rubble.
courtesy
/
National Weather Service
A tornado destroyed a farm shed east of Anchor in McLean County on June 13.

The National Weather Service [NWS] says six tornadoes developed in Central Illinois during severe storms the night of June 13.

Five of the twisters were confirmed in northeastern McLean County. The twisters developed within 20 minutes and all but one did not last long.

One of the tornadoes that touched down near Anchor in northeast McLean County tore a nearly eight-mile-path to Gibson City.

Overhead map of farmland with diagonal line showing the path of a storm
courtesy
/
National Weather Service
The National Weather Service says a tornado that touched down Thursday night in Anchor stretched for 7.64 miles into Gibson County with peak winds of 110 mph.

NWS had expected severe weather across Central Illinois that night, but the tornadoes developed so quickly, there wasn’t enough time to issue warnings, according to Ed Shimon, warning coordination meteorologist.

“There’s just enough of a period of time where the winds in the atmosphere of where this storm is coming line up just right to provide enough of a rotational inertia in the atmosphere that this storm is ingesting that air and bing, bing, bing you can have a quick series of tornadoes develop like this,” Shimon said.

The weather service had confirmed three tornadoes as of Friday.

No injuries were reported in the storms. The tornadoes, which contained winds approached 100 mph, toppled several farm buildings, downed power lines and tore the roof off a home near the McLean-Ford county line.

Tornado trends

Shimon noted Illinois has had 70 confirmed tornadoes so far this year. That’s 25% more than the 30-year average. Last year, the state had 121 tornadoes, three short of the record.

This comes at a time when the Midwest has been baking in 90-degree heat for much of the week.

Shimon said the extreme temperatures might tamp down the risk of more tornadoes.

“That’s going to suppress our potential for significant tornadic-type events. We may get large hail, some damaging wind, but the tornado threat tends to diminish when we have a really hot atmosphere across the area,” he said.

Shimon said the so-called heat dome may be more likely to increase the likelihood of an earlier drought.

“I’m a little nervous that we are going to trend toward a drought condition a little sooner than we normally would because that’s usually the dry part of summer, later July and August,” Shimon said.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.