Violent Tornadoes (F4/EF4, F5/EF5) in Central and Southeast Illinois 
Since 1880

 

Mapping of F-3 or EF-3 and stronger tornadoes in central and southeast Illinois since 1950
Map of strong and violent tornadoes in central and southeast Illinois
since 1950.  Click image to enlarge.


While violent tornadoes (F4 or F5 on the old Fujita Scale, and EF4 or EF5 on the new scale) have occurred about two dozen times in the Lincoln NWS coverage area since the late 1880's, only two known F5-strength tornadoes have affected the area.  One occurred in Taylorville in 1880, and the other occurred in Lacon in 1942.

The information below is compiled from records by the National Climatic Data Center, as well as the book Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991, by Thomas P. Grazulis.  The magnitude is the highest value anywhere along the track.

 
Location Affected (County) Date Time of Initial Touchdown
(CST)
Magnitude Deaths Injuries Property
Damage
Palmer, Taylorville, Sharpsburg (Christian)

04/24/1880

07:00 PM

F5

6

33

N/A

One of only two F5-strength tornadoes to affect central or southeast Illinois.  This tornado touched down 9 miles southwest of Taylorville, then moved northeast through Taylorville before lifting northeast of Sharpsburg.  Bodies of people and cattle were reportedly carried over a half mile.
Alsey, Pisgah (Scott, Morgan)

05/10/1880

06:30 PM

F4

7

18

N/A

Touched down northeast of Alsey, then passed south of Jacksonville to near Pisgah.  The most violent part of the tornado was south of Pisgah, where 30 buildings were destroyed, and 50 head of livestock were killed.
White Hall, Roodhouse (Greene, Morgan)

05/18/1883

06:20 PM

F4

8

50

N/A

Touched down 2 miles east of White Hall, then passed 3 miles east of Roodhouse.  The farming community of Greasy Prairie in southern Morgan County was leveled.  The tornado dissipated just before reaching Alexander.
Springfield, Dawson, Kenney (Sangamon, Logan, Macon, DeWitt)

05/18/1883

07:30 PM

F4

11

50

N/A

The tornado touched down 2.5 miles south of downtown Springfield, and moved northeast through Round Prairie (just east of the current intersection of I-55 and Cook St.).  The tornado was described as being "balloon-shaped" as it cut a half mile wide path between Dawson and Buffalo.  In Logan County, the tornado passed between Mount Pulaski and Latham, then dissipated 4 miles east of Kenney (De Witt County).  Causing "unprecedented" damage as described by pioneers of the area, the tornado killed or injured thousands of farm animals, and reportedly carried 10x12 inch oak timbers a half mile before embedding them 10 feet into the ground.
Literberry, Philadelphia (Morgan, Cass, Menard)

05/18/1883

08:15 PM

F4

12

50

N/A

This violent tornado touched down 7 miles northwest of Jacksonville, and damaged or destroyed all of Literberry before entering the southeast corner of Cass County.  Damage in and around Literberry included the destruction of 22 homes, 8 businesses, 3 churches, and a school.  Severe damage occurred just east of Philadelphia.  The tornado lifted 5 miles west of Petersburg.
Armstrong, Potomac (Vermilion IL, Warren IN)

05/12/1886

04:20 PM

F4

3

10

N/A 

Touched down southwest of Armstrong, missing Armstrong by a mile to the south and Potomac by a mile to the north.  The tornado tracked to between Alvin and Rossville, before lifting east of the Indiana border.
York, Grayville IN (Clark IL, Sullivan IN)

06/07/1907

06:00 PM

F4

IL 3, 
IN 1

8

N/A

This tornado touched down in southern Clark County and damaged or destroyed every building in the town of York.  Three of the deaths occurred in Illinois, with another one across the border near Grayville, IN.  Livestock animals were killed and swept into the Wabash River.
White Hall, Owaneco, Westervelt, Mattoon, Charleston (Pike, Greene, Macoupin, Montgomery, Christian, Shelby, Moultrie, Coles)

05/26/1917

12:10 PM

F4

101

638

N/A

Once thought to be a single tornado with a 293 mile path, it was later determined to be 4 to 8 separate tornadoes.  The vast majority of deaths and injuries occurred in Mattoon and Charleston.  Click here for more details.
Ogden, Bismarck, Hendrick IN (Champaign, Vermilion, Warren IN)

04/17/1922

03:00 PM

F4

IL 2, 
IN 11

IL 5, 
IN 35

200K

This violent tornado touched down 3 miles north of Ogden, killing two people.  It swept away several farms and houses near Bismarck before moving into Warren County, IN.  The tornado was at its strongest as it approached Hedrick, IN, where most of the deaths and injuries occurred.
Apex MO, Hardin, Carrollton, Wrights, Athensville, Loami (Lincoln MO, Calhoun, Greene, Macoupin, Morgan, Sangamon)

04/19/1927

11:45 AM

F4

11

63

450K

This was the first of two violent tornadoes to affect central Illinois on this day.  It initially touched down 4 miles southwest of Apex, MO, injuring 11 people before crossing the Mississippi River.  Two people were killed just northwest of Hardin.  In Carrollton (Greene County), a teacher was killed while she held the door to the school closed (only minor injuries occurred to 11 of the 18 students inside).  Four people died near Wrights and one near Athensville (both in Greene County).  The tornado killed another person 2 miles east of Loami (Sangamon County), then finally dissipated at the southwest edge of Springfield shortly after 1 pm.
Springfield, Riverton, Buffalo Hart, Cornland, Lake Fork, Chestnut, Mt. Pulaski, Le Roy (Sangamon, Logan, De Witt, McLean, Ford)

04/19/1927

01:10 PM

F4 

10

60

850K

The second violent tornado of the day touched down near the southeast edge of Springfield, and moved to the north edge of Riverton.  It intensified and destroyed most of Buffalo Hart, killing 3 people.  The northern half of Cornland (Logan County) was destroyed, killing two more people.  Two students in Chestnut were killed by flying debris.  Two people were also killed near Mount Pulaski, and one other was killed in De Witt County.
Ivesdale, Savoy, St. Joseph, Hope, Alvin (Champaign, Vermilion)

03/16/1942

10:30 AM

F4

11

60

300K

One of two violent tornadoes in central Illinois on this day.  It touched down 3 miles east of Ivesdale, then tracked to the Indiana border northeast of Alvin.  About 50 homes were damaged or destroyed, including 25 homes on the west side of Alvin.
Kickapoo, Alta, Chillicothe, Lacon (Peoria, Marshall)

03/16/1942

04:30 PM

F5

7

70

600K

The second of two violent tornadoes on this day, and the last F5-strength tornado to occur in central or southeast Illinois.  It touched down northwest of Peoria near Kickapoo, then tracked northeast across Alta and Chillicothe, before destroying a quarter of Lacon.  Debris from Lacon was found 25 miles away.  Nearly all of the deaths occurred in Marshall County.
Litchfield, Morrisonville, Moweaqua (Mongtomery, Christian, Shelby)

03/19/1948

08:00 AM

F4

0

2

N/A

A family of tornadoes had occurred further southwest in Macoupin and Madison Counties, and regenerated in Montgomery County.  This tornado touched down 3 miles northwest of Litchfield, then tracked northeast to near Morrisonville (Christian County).  The tornado lifted 1 mile southeast of Moweaqua (Christian County).
Palestine (Crawford IL, Sullivan IN)

05/21/1949

05:00 PM

F4

4

7

N/A

Touched down just southwest of Palestine, destroying 3 homes and damaging 20 others in town.  Four people were killed as a restaurant was destroyed, and a body was retrieved from a tree.  The tornado crossed into Indiana and dissipated 4 miles west of Sullivan.
Springfield (Sangamon)

06/14/1957

02:00 PM

F4

2

50

2.5M

This tornado moved across the southwest side of Springfield and moved through Jerome, very close to the track of the March 12, 2006 tornado.  Two people were killed, and 50 were injured.  The parent thunderstorm produced a 98 mph wind gust at Capital Airport on the north side of town.
Bement, Ivesdale, Sadorus, Ogden, Danville (Macon, Piatt, Champaign, Vermilion)

03/20/1976

01:15 PM

F4

0

18

10.0M

This violent tornado touched down near Casner (southeast Macon County) before tracking east-northeast across Piatt, Champaign and Vermilion Counties, lifting 5 miles northwest of Danville.  The most severe damage occurred near Sadorus ($2 million damage) and Ogden ($1 million damage), both in Champaign County.  The tornado was nearly a mile wide west of Sadorus, before narrowing to a half mile wide.  Damage at Ogden included the destruction of a lumber yard, water tower, bank, grain elevator, fire house, and several homes.
Kickapoo, Dunlap (Peoria)

06/29/1976

01:45 PM

F4

0

0

250K

This tornado touched down 1 mile northwest of Kickapoo, then tracked to 2 miles southeast of Dunlap.  It destroyed an entire farm south of Dunlap.
Rinard, Clay City, Noble, Olney (Wayne, Clay, Richland)

06/02/1990

04:45 PM

F4

0

2

N/A

This tornado, and the one in the next entry, were part of an outbreak of 66 tornadoes that affected 9 states, but were most concentrated from eastern Illinois into southern Indiana.  This particular tornado touched down in northern Wayne County near Rinard, then clipped the southeast corner of Clay County before moving to the south edge of  Olney (Richland County).
Newton, Hunt City (Jasper)

06/02/1990

05:07 PM

F4

0

6

N/A

This violent tornado touched down near the north edge of Newton Lake, then crossed Newton before moving to the south side of Hunt City.  Seven homes were destroyed in Newton.
Ipava, Lewistown (Fulton)

05/13/1995

04:55 PM

F4

0

45

6.0M

Touched down 1 mile northeast of Ipava, destroying 12 homes and numerous cars and pieces of farm machinery, before lifting 2 miles northeast of Lewistown.
Metamora, Roanoke (Woodford)

07/13/2004

01:34 PM

F4

0

3

N/A

This violent tornado rapidly formed, and destroyed a manufacturing plant west of Roanoke.  Click here for more details.
East Peoria, Washington (Tazewell, Woodford, La Salle, Livingston)

11/17/2013

10:59 AM

EF4

2

125

935.0M

This tornado, half a mile wide at its strongest, was on the ground for over 46 miles.  The most severe damage occurred in Washington, in northern Tazewell County.  Click here for more details.

 

 


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