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 2014.  By clicking on any of the counties, you can get more detailed information on the tornadoes reported in those counties since 1950.  (Information on other counties in Illinois can be obtained from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center's Tornado Tracks page.)

Tornado touchdowns by county 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 2014
Rank County Tornadoes within
county boundary
Rank County Tornadoes per
100 square miles
1 McLean 103 1 Logan 9.547
2 Sangamon 75 2 Sangamon 8.871
3 Champaign 71 3 McLean 8.784
4 Macon 60 4 Tazewell 8.629
5 Logan 59 5 Woodford 7.765
5 Vermilion 57 6 Macon 7.168
7 Tazewell 56 7 Champaign 7.121
8 Woodford 41 8 Douglas 6.715
9 (tie) Fulton 36 9 Piatt 6.591
9 (tie) Christian 36 10 Vermilion 6.340
11 (tie) Mason 32 11 Coles 6.102
11 (tie) Morgan 32 12 Mason 5.937
13 Coles 31 13 De Witt 5.779
14 Shelby 30 14 Morgan 5.624
15 (tie) Edgar 29 15 Christian 5.078
15 (tie) Piatt 29 16 Scott 4.781
17 Douglas 28 17 Edgar 4.647
18 Knox 26 18 Schuyler 4.577
19 De Witt 23 19 Effingham 4.175
20 (tie) Effingham 20 20 Fulton 4.157
20 (tie) Peoria 20 21 Shelby 3.953
20 (tie) Schuyler 20 22 Stark 3.819
23 (tie) Clay 15 23 Knox 3.631
23 (tie) Crawford 15 24 Cumberland 3.468
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 Cass 2.394
31 (tie) Cass 9 34 Moultrie 2.381
35 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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