Roanoke F4 Tornado of July 13, 2004


Aerial photo of Parsons Manufacturing Plant before the tornado.
Parsons Manufacturing Plant before the tornado (undated photo)
Near Route 116 Looking east at 
			F4 tornado striking the Parsons Manufacturing Plant about 1 mile away.  Photo 
			taken by Scott Smith for the Peoria Journal Star newspaper.
F4 Tornado striking Parsons Manufacturing Plant (courtesy of Scott Smith)
Tornado track across Woodford County
Track of tornado, from north of Metamora to south of Roanoke

Aerial photo of the remnants of the Parsons Manufacturing Plant
Remains of Parsons Manufacturing Plant, taken July 15 (courtesy of Woodford County ESDA)

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Violent Tornadoes (F4 or F5) across Illinois since 1950

Parsons Plant Gallery of F4 Roanoke Tornado & Damage

Parsons Plant Rebuilt April 2005

Summary of Event:

Supercell thunderstorms tracked across northern and central Illinois the afternoon and evening of July 13.  A violent tornado tracked for 9.6 miles across Woodford County, with the tornado reaching F4 intensity along a 1-mile stretch between Metamora and Roanoke.

Damage surveys were completed by National Weather Service and Woodford County ESDA personnel on July 14 and 15.  Specific details on the tornado's track follows.

The tornado touched down approximately 1.8 miles north of Metamora, a few hundred yards southeast of the intersection of Illinois Route 89 and county road 1600N.  The tornado was initially of F0 (40-72 mph) strength.  It moved southeast, and strengthened to F2 intensity (113-157 mph) near the time it reached county road 1300E.  It then began a temporary eastward movement for about a half mile, before curving southeast again.  It crossed Route 116 just west of the Route 117 junction, and was at F3 strength (158-206 mph) at this point.

The tornado increased to F4 intensity (approximately 210-240 mph) as it crossed Route 117, demolishing the Parsons Manufacturing Plant at this intersection.  Approximately 140 people were in the plant at the time, but all made it to storm shelters in time (approximately 3-5 minutes before the tornado arrived).  Steel beams and metal siding from the plant were found approximately 3/4 mile east in a farm field.

From the plant, the tornado continued east, just south of Routes 116/117, affecting 4 farmsteads approximately 1/2 to 1 mile east of the plant.  Two of the farmsteads closest to the plant (about 1/2 to 3/4 mile east) had the 2-story houses completely blown away, with only debris remaining in the basements and nearby property.  The other two farmsteads had significant damage to the 2-story houses, with outbuildings demolished.  The center of the tornado's track was about 100 yards south of the farmsteads on the south side of the highway.

From the plant to the farmsteads, the storm was F4 intensity.  The average width of the tornado during this time was 400 yards, and was close to 1/4 mile wide at times. 

At this point, the tornado began to travel in a more east-southeast direction, and caused significant damage to a barn near the intersection of county roads 1300N and 1700E. It caused significant damage at a farmstead at the southeast corner of 1300N and 1800E.  The tornado crossed 1300N shortly afterward, and lifted around 2:57 pm about 2.5 miles southeast of Roanoke, at county road 1900E.

The tornado was on the ground for approximately 23 minutes.

Further explanation of the Supercell in Illinois on 7/13/04


Weather and Radar Images:
 

Upper-air observation from Lincoln at 7 am This is the upper-air sounding taken at Lincoln at 7 am (12Z) July 13.  The air is already quite unstable, with a lifted index of -11.
Upper air observation from Lincoln at 1 pm A special upper-air sounding was taken that day.  The 1 pm (18Z) sounding showed CAPE values were over 6400 J/kg, the lifted index had decreased to -14.7, and wind shear in the lower levels of the atmosphere were increasing.
7 am surface map This is a surface weather plot of Illinois from 7 am.  CAPE values are overlaid and shaded.  Dewpoint values in the lower 70s were common over the area.
11 am surface map The surface plot at 11 am indicated dewpoint values rising across the southwest half of the state, and were close to 80 degrees.  The CAPE values consequently rose, and were over 4500 J/kg in the white areas on the map.
2 pm surface map By 2 pm, the oppressive heat and humidity had spread east to the I-57 corridor.  CAPE values well over 6000 J/kg were common, and heat index values were in the 105 to 110 degree range.
4-panel visible satellite image This is a 4-panel visible satellite image of the supercell storms that moved across Illinois.  Starting clockwise from the upper left panel, image times were 11:01 am, 1:15 pm, 3:15 pm, and 5:02 pm.  Roanoke is located at the green X labeled "Home" in the image.

This is the 0.5 degree reflectivity image from the Lincoln Doppler radar at 2:01 pm.  The Roanoke storm will quickly evolve from the shower located just east of Spring Bay.  The site of the Parsons plant in this and subsequent images is indicated by the blue X labeled "Home".
By 2:11 pm, the storm begins to grow as it approaches a separate strong thunderstorm located across north central Woodford County.
At 2:16 pm, moderate to heavy rain is occurring at the Parsons plant, with the most intense part of the storm still to the northeast, approaching Benson.
The 0.5 degree Storm Relative Motion (SRM) image taken at the same time does not show evidence of a circulation from the southwest part of the storm.  (The radar site is located about 45 miles south of the "Home" location on the image.)
The image from 2:21 pm shows the storms beginning to merge, with the western storm starting to become the more dominant storm.
The SRM image at 2:21 pm shows the beginnings of a circulation between Chillicothe and Metamora.
At 2:26 pm, the heart of the storm is moving through Roanoke.  Note the appendage extending northwest to between Chillicothe and Metamora.
The SRM image at 2:26 pm is beginning to show an intensifying circulation in the previously mentioned appendage.  A Tornado Vortex Signature (TVS) is indicated by the radar, as the purple triangle in the image.
The 2:31 pm radar image showed the Parsons plant beginning to see the rain taper off.  However, the appendage on the northwest part of the storm is becoming more concentrated, with a definite hook-shape indicated (at the purple triangle labeled "S1" in the picture).
The 0.5 degree SRM image at 2:31 pm shows the mesocyclone significantly more intense than 5 minutes ago.  Later storm damage surveys indicate that a tornado has touched down around this time.
At 2:36 pm, the hook echo is quickly approaching the Parsons plant from the northwest.
About a mile or so to the west of the plant, the SRM images at 2:36 pm continue to show the tornado's intensification.  The bright-green and bright-red squares next to each other indicate what radar operators call "gate-to-gate shear", with winds in excess of 50 knots (58 mph) in opposite directions next to each other.
At 2:41 pm, the Parsons plant is being demolished by the tornado (location indicated by the white circle).  The increase in reflectivity strength (red shades in the hook echo) may be due to debris being drawn upward, enhancing the radar beam's reflectivity.
The SRM image at 2:41 pm shows the gate-to-gate shear couplet over the plant site.
At 2:46 pm, the tornado is moving east-southeast from the plant, with the appendage/hook still visible on the west edge of the storm.
The gate-to-gate shear couplet is now located between the Parsons plant and the town of Roanoke.
The 2:51 pm radar image shows the appendage feature now over the town of Roanoke...
and the SRM image shows the circulation moving just south of town.  However, the shear is not quite as strong as earlier.
At 2:56 pm, the appendage is no longer readily visible, as the storm pulls away from the Roanoke area.
The SRM image still shows a very broad circulation across central Woodford County, but no longer indicates a potential tornado.

Pictures (click images to enlarge):
 
This image was taken looking west of 
			Roanoke, from a remote camera.
West of Roanoke (photo by Justin Weber)
This picture was looking 
			north from Eureka at the tornado, around the time the tornado hit the plant.
North of Eureka (photo by Sam Bertschi)
The remains of the Parsons plant is 
			seen in this aereal photo.  The track of the tornado coming in from the northwest 
			is shown by the dark areas in the fields.
Parsons Plant (photo by Woodford County ESDA)
The track of the tornado is seen in the 
			fields in this picture.  The tornado curved more southeast as it moved away from the 
			farmsteads.
Parsons Plant (photo by Woodford County ESDA)

Tornado approaches Parsons Plant (photo by Scott Smith)

Tornado strikes Parsons Plant (photo by Scott Smith)

Tornado strikes Parsons Plant (photo by Scott Smith)

Tornado passes Parsons Plant (photo by Scott Smith)
Photo of crane picking up '
			vehicles at the Parsons Manufacturing Plant from F4 Tornado.  Photo taken by Fred 
			Zwicky for the Peoria Journal Star newspaper.
Parsons Plant (photo by Fred Zwicky)
Photo of destruction of the 
			Parsons Manufacturing Plant from F4 Tornado.  Photo taken by Fred Zwicky for the 
			Peoria Journal Star newspaper.
Parsons Plant (photo by Fred Zwicky)
Aerial Photo of destruction of the 
			Parsons Manufacturing Plant from F4 Tornado.  Photo taken by Matt Dayhoff for the 
			Peoria Journal Star newspaper.
Parsons Plant (photo by Matt Dayhoff)
Aerial photo of destruction of the 
			Parsons Manufacturing Plant from F4 Tornado.  Photo taken by Matt Dayhoff for the 
			Peoria Journal Star newspaper.
Parsons Plant (photo by Matt Dayhoff)
This was one of the concrete storm 
			shelters used by Parsons employees.
Parsons Plant
The administrative office also contained a concrete storm shelter for employees.  This was one of the few areas still standing after the tornado.
Parsons Plant

Parsons Plant

Parsons Plant
The remains of a car from the parking lot 
			(northwest side of the Parsons complex) was on the south side of the complex 
			afterward.
Parsons Plant
An I-beam and a steel equipment bucket 
			were thrown over 1/2 mile by the tornado.
East of Parsons Plant
This concrete wall, on the western part 
			of the complex, was broken by the tornado.
Parsons Plant
Debris from the Parsons plant was 
			lined up in a farm field about a half mile east of the plant.
East of Parsons Plant
Rescue workers at the remains of 
			the Parsons Manufacturing Plant destroyed by an F4 tornado.
Parsons Plant (photo by Steve Smedley)
Firemen gathered around the remains 
			of the Parsons Manufacturing Plant destroyed by an F4 tornado.
Parsons Plant (photo by Steve Smedley
Pile of vehicles at the Parsons 
			Manufacturing Plant destroyed by an F4 tornado.
Parsons Plant (photo by Steve Smedley)
Piles of vehicles at the Parsons 
			Manufacturing Plant
Parsons Plant (photo by Steve Smedley)
This is what remains of a truck in the 
			loading area on the east side of the plant.
Parsons Plant
Vehicle remains are part of the debris 
			from the loading area on the east side of the plant.
Parsons Plant
The tornado track can be seen extending 
			east from the Parsons plant.
Parsons Plant
Tornado west of Roanoke near Ford 
			dealership
West of Roanoke (photo by Justin Weber)
Nothing was left standing at this 
			former 2-story home.  Six people in the basement survived.
West of Roanoke
Debris is scattered all around this 
			farmstead.
West of Roanoke
Debris is wrapped around what remains of a 
			tree at one of the destroyed farmsteads.
West of Roanoke
This photo, looking west, was taken from 
			a hill about 1/4 mile east of the Parsons plant.
West of Roanoke
Looking northwest from the hill east of 
			the Parsons plant, a severly damaged farmstead is seen in the distance.
West of Roanoke
This was previously a 2-story house.
West of Roanoke
No walls were left standing at this 
			former 2-story home.
West of Roanoke
F4 Tornado approaches Parsons Manufacturing Plant 4 miles west of Roanoke
West of Roanoke
Much of the top half of this house was 
			severely damaged by the tornado.
West of Roanoke
This house was heavily damaged by the 
			tornado, with almost all windows blown out.
West of Roanoke
The top half of this bus was torn off.
West of Roanoke
Photo of farmstead severely damaged by 
			a tornado east of the Parsons Manufacturing Plant
South of Roanoke (Steve Smedley)
This barn was demolished southwest of 
			Roanoke.
Southwest of Roanoke

South of Roanoke
An outbuilding is demolished by the 
			tornado.
South of Roanoke
Tornado north of Eureka and west 
			of Roanoke
North of Eureka (photo by Sam Bertschi)
F4 tornado near Roanoke
Roanoke (photo by Sharol Minger)
F4 tornado near Roanoke
Roanoke (photo by Sharol Minger)
F4 tornado near Roanoke
Roanoke (photo by Sharol Minger)
F4 tornado near Roanoke
Roanoke (photo by Sharol Minger)
Photo taken at Vermeer Sales 2 miles 
			east of Eureka looking north at F4 Tornado 5 miles away
NE of Eureka (photo by Glade Stutzman)
Photo taken at Vermeer Sales 2 miles 
			east of Eureka looking north at F4 tornado 5 miles away
NE of Eureka (photo by Glade Stutzman)
Photo taken at Vermeer Sales 2 miles 
			east of Eureka looking north at F4 tornado 5 miles away
NE of Eureka (photo by Glade Stutzman)
Photo taken at Vermeer Sales 2 miles 
			east of Eureka looking north at F4 tornado 5 miles away
NE of Eureka (photo by Glade Stutzman)
Photo taken in Eureka off Reagan Drive & Redbud Lane looking north at developing F4 
			tornado
North of Eureka (photo by Brian Bill)
Photo taken in Eureka off Reagan Drive & Redbud Lane looking north at developing F4 
			tornado
North of Eureka (photo by Brian Bill)
Photo taken in Eureka off Reagan Drive & Redbud Lane looking north at developing F4 
			tornado
North of Eureka (photo by Brian Bill)
Photo taken in Eureka off Reagan Drive & Redbud Lane looking north at developing F4 tornado
North of Eureka (photo by Brian Bill)
Photo taken in Eureka off Reagan Drive & Redbud Lane looking north at F4 tornado
North of Eureka (photo by Brian Bill)
Photo taken in Eureka off Reagan Drive & Redbud Lane looking north at F4 tornado
North of Eureka (photo by Brian Bill)
Photo taken in Eureka off Reagan Drive & Redbud Lane looking north at F4 tornado
North of Eureka (photo by Brian Bill)
Photo taken in Eureka off Reagan Drive & Redbud Lane looking north at F4 tornado
North of Eureka (photo by Brian Bill)
Photo of an F4 tornado between Roanoke and Eureka
West of Roanoke (photo by Steve Smedley)
Photo of tornado between Roanoke and Eureka
West of Roanoke (photo by Steve Smedley)
Photo of tornado between Roanoke and Eureka
West of Roanoke (photo by Steve Smedley)
Photo of F4 tornado between Roanoke and Eureka
West of Roanoke (photo by Steve Smedley)
Tornado first touched down 
			1.8 miles north of Metamora, IL at 2:34 PM CDT on 7/13/04.
North of Metamora (photo by Jason Malson)
Looking east at a tornado 
			strengthening east of Metamora while heading toward Roanoke
East of Metamora (photo by Jason Malson)
Looking east at a tornado 
			heading toward Roanoke
East of Metamora (photo by Jason Malson)
Looking east at a tornado 
			moving toward Roanoke
East of Metamora (photo by Jason Malson)
Photo of destruction of the 
			Parsons Manufacturing Plant from an F4 Tornado
Parsons Plant
 (photo by Jason Malson)
Photo of vehicles badly damaged 
			from an F4 tornado
Parsons Plant (photo by Jason Malson)
Photo of a house heavily 
			damaged from a tornado just south of Roanoke
East of Parsons Plant (photo by Jason Malson)
People respond to the 
			Parsons Manufacturing Plant at dusk that was destroyed by an F4 Tornado on 
			July 13 2004 at 2:41 PM CDT.
Parsons Plant (photo by Jason Malson)

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