Tornado Climatology for Central and Southeast Illinois

Tornadoes have been common across central Illinois over the years, with lesser totals reported across southeast portions of the state.  The map below shows the number of tornadoes reported across the Lincoln NWS's County Warning Area between 1950 and 2012.  By clicking on any of the counties, you can get more detailed information on the tornadoes reported in those counties since 1950.

While some of the disparity can be attributed to differing weather conditions, some of it is also due to the organization of storm spotter networks, with an overall upward trend in reported tornadoes as the years progressed.  To try and account for this, we have also normalized the reports of tornadoes per 100 square miles, instead of just by county boundaries:

 

Tornado Rankings, 1950 to 2011

Rank

County

Tornadoes within
county boundary

Rank

County

Tornadoes per
100 square miles

1

McLean

103

1

Logan

9.547

2

Sangamon

75

2

McLean

8.699

3

Champaign

67

3

Sangamon

8.641

4

Logan

59

4

Tazewell

8.320

5

Macon

56

5

Woodford

6.818

6

Tazewell

54

6

Champaign

6.720

7

Vermilion

52

7

Macon

6.691

8 (tie)

Fulton

36

8

Piatt

6.591

8 (tie)

Woodford

36

9

Douglas

5.995

10

Christian

33

10

Mason

5.937

11

Mason

32

11

Coles

5.906

12

Coles

30

12

Vermilion

5.784

13

Piatt

29

13

De Witt

5.779

14 (tie)

Morgan

28

14

Morgan

4.920

14 (tie)

Edgar

28

15

Scott

4.781

16 (tie)

Knox

26

16

Christian

4.654

16 (tie)

Shelby

26

17

Schuyler

4.577

18

Douglas

25

18

Edgar

4.487

19

De Witt

23

19

Fulton

4.157

20

Schuyler

20

20

Effingham

3.758

21

Peoria

19

21

Knox

3.631

22

Effingham

18

22

Cumberland

3.468

23 (tie)

Clay

15

23

Shelby

3.426

23 (tie)

Crawford

15

24

Crawford

3.378

25

Jasper

14

25

Richland

3.333

26 (tie)

Cumberland

12

26

Clay

3.198

26 (tie)

Richland

12

27

Peoria

3.065

26 (tie)

Scott

11

28

Menard

2.866

29 (tie)

Clark

9

29

Jasper

2.834

29 (tie)

Lawrence

9

30

Stark

2.778

29 (tie)

Marshall

9

31

Lawrence

2.412

32 (tie)

Menard

9

32

Marshall

2.332

33 (tie)

Cass

8

33

Cass

2.128

33 (tie)

Stark

8

34

Moultrie

2.083

35

Moultrie

7

35

Clark

1.793

 

"Tornado rose" for the Lincoln County Warning AreaThe image at left shows the prevailing directions that the tornadoes move from in this area.  For example, the 36% along the southwest axis of the graph means that 36% of the tornadoes moved from the southwest to the northeast.  Most of the tornadoes in this area moved toward the northeast to east.  Fewer tornadoes moved in a southeast direction.  Only a handful moved in other directions (shown in the inset at the lower right corner of the image). Click on the image to enlarge.

The database from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) was used to create these pages.  Besides the tornado information, NCDC's Interactive Database can be used to retrieve information regarding hail, winter storms, and other hazards.  Also check out NCDC's U.S. Tornado Climatology page, and SPC's GIS-enabled Severe Weather Climatology page.  Similar maps for other Illinois counties are available at the Illinois State Climatologist web page.

 

 

Some other items to consider when reviewing these pages:

  • Detailed storm surveys were not frequently conducted during earlier time periods.  In some cases, this resulted in apparent long tornado tracks, under the assumption that the tornado remained on the ground the entire time.  Also, changes in direction of movement were not well documented.
  • Earlier records were sketchier in terms of touchdown locations, etc.  There may be errors of a few miles in the specific locations of touchdowns.
  • The F-Scale magnitudes given are for the entire tornado track, although the peak magnitude may have only been in certain locations.

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