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 2013.  By clicking on any of the counties, you can get more detailed information on the tornadoes reported in those counties since 1950.

SELECT A COUNTY:

Cass

Champaign
Clark
Clay
Christian
Coles
Crawford
Cumberland
De Witt
Douglas
Edgar
Effingham
Fulton
Jasper
Knox
Lawrence
Logan
McLean
Macon
Marshall
Mason
Menard
Morgan
Moultrie
Peoria
Piatt
Richland
Sangamon
Schuyler
Scott
Shelby
Stark
Tazewell
Vermilion
Woodford

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 2013

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

71

3

Sangamon

8.641

4

Logan

59

4

Tazewell

8.629

5 (tie)

Macon

57

5

Woodford

7.576

5 (tie)

Vermilion

57

6

Champaign

7.121

7

Tazewell

56

7

Macon

6.810

8

Woodford

40

8

Douglas

6.715

9

Fulton

36

9

Piatt

6.591

10

Christian

35

10

Vermilion

6.340

11

Mason

32

11

Coles

6.102

12

Coles

31

12

Mason

5.936

13

Morgan

30

13

De Witt

5.779

14

Piatt

29

14

Morgan

5.272

15 (tie)

Douglas

28

15

Christian

4.937

15 (tie)

Edgar

28

16

Scott

4.781

17 (tie)

Knox

26

17

Schuyler

4.577

17 (tie)

Shelby

26

18

Edgar

4.487

19

De Witt

23

19

Fulton

4.157

20 (tie)

Schuyler

20

20

Effingham

3.967

20 (tie)

Peoria

20

21

Stark

3.819

22

Effingham

19

22

Knox

3.631

23 (tie)

Clay

15

23

Cumberland

3.468

23 (tie)

Crawford

15

24

Shelby

3.426

23 (tie)

Jasper

15

25

Crawford

3.378

26 (tie)

Cumberland

12

26

Richland

3.333

26 (tie)

Richland

12

27

Peoria

3.226

26 (tie)

Scott

12

28

Clay

3.198

29 (tie)

Stark

11

29

Jasper

3.036

29 (tie)

Marshall

11

30

Menard

2.866

31 (tie)

Lawrence

9

31

Marshall

2.850

31 (tie)

Menard

9

32

Lawrence

2.419

31 (tie)

Clark

9

33

Moultrie

2.381

34 (tie)

Cass

8

34

Cass

2.128

34 (tie)

Moultrie

8

35

Clark

1.793

 

Direction of Tornado Movement

Spring season (Mar-May) tracks

Summer tracks (June-August)

Fall tornado tracks (Sep-Nov)

Winter tornado tracks (Dec-Feb)

 Spring Season
(March through May)

Summer Season
(June through August)
 

Autumn Season
(September through November)
 

Winter Season
(December through February)
 

 

"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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