Rare December tornadoes reported in central U.S.

One dead in and at least 20 injured in U.S. tornado

Residents in central Illinois on Sunday assessed the damage after rare December tornadoes, including one the day before that was a half-mile-wide, ripped roofs off homes, downed power lines and injured at least 20 people.

The severe weather in Illinois was part of a line of thunderstorms that raked areas of the central U.S. late Friday and into Saturday, killing one person in Missouri. The National Weather Service confirmed tornadoes in Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma.

At least three tornadoes were confirmed in northwest and southwest Arkansas, which largely caused property and structural damage. No injuries or fatalities were reported.

RELATED: Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Peak months for tornadoes in much of the Midwest are April and June, according to the weather service. But at least 12 tornadoes were reported in Illinois on Saturday, including one in Taylorville which has been confirmed. If the majority are confirmed, that would be the most tornadoes in Illinois in a December storm since Dec. 18-19, 1957, when there were 21.

The weather service sent crews Sunday to survey the hardest-hit areas in Illinois, which included Taylorville, 25 miles (40 kilometres) southeast of Springfield.

Photographs and video from Taylorville showed several houses flattened, with residents wading into debris to salvage what they could. Some homes remained standing but with gaping holes in the roofs or with no roofs at all.

The tornado was on the ground for around 10 miles (16 kilometres) before it thundered through Taylorville, and the weather service was able to warn residents of its arrival 41 minutes before it actually struck, Chris Miller, a meteorologist at the service’s Lincoln office, said in a phone interview Sunday. That advanced warning gave people critical time to take cover and may have saved lives.

Assistant Fire Chief Andy Goodall, speaking to reporters Saturday night shortly after the storm pounded the city of 11,000, said at least 100 homes had major damage, including his own, Springfield’s State Journal-Register reported.

A Taylorville Memorial Hospital spokesman said 21 people, from age 9 to 97, arrived for treatment Saturday. Most were released within hours. Miller said three people remained hospitalized as of Sunday afternoon.

RELATED: 1 man dead after tornado rips through Manitoba community

Miller said preliminary estimates are that the Taylorville tornado may have been an EF2, which indicates wind speeds as high as 135 mph. It could take several more days to know for sure.

The weather service said Sunday that a strong tornado that developed from severe thunderstorms Friday night touched down in Van Buren, Arkansas. It was rated an EF2. About 10 minutes later, a second weaker tornado was confirmed less than 10 miles (16 kilometres) away near the town of Rudy, Arkansas.

Damage surveys for the two tornadoes are ongoing but officials said dozens of homes were damaged.

Early Saturday morning a third tornado with estimated peak winds of 107 mph travelled about 8.5 miles (13.5 kilometres) through Spring Hill in southwest Arkansas. Its path was intermittent and mostly caused damage to trees and to some structures.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Castle Project to expand Teck Coal operations

The Castle Project would be an expansion at Teck’s Fording River Operations

Community Cash Awards make their return to the Elk Valley

The program supports the development of healthy and diverse communities

Updates from Sparwood’s most recent council meeting

Bylaw changes and policing priorities were among the topics discussed at council’s last meeting

Elk River Alliance seeks volunteers

There are many different ways to get involved with the ERA as a volunteer

Kootenay Community Bat Projects seeks public help in tracking bats

Kootenay area bats are at risk of contracting white nose syndrome

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Higher costs should kill Trans Mountain pipeline, federal opposition says

Most recent total was $12.6 billion, much higher than a previous $7.4-billion estimate

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say they’ll meet with ministers if RCMP get out

Federal minister in charge of Indigenous relations has proposed a meeting to diffuse blockades

Fairmont home destroyed in fire

Firefighters are on scene today to investigate the cause of the fire.

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

Police narrow down timeline in death of woman in West Kootenay

West Kootenay Traffic Services and BC Coroners Service working on the case

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Most Read