Central Illinois Tornadoes of May 24-25, 2004

Severe weather reports from May 24-25 (Map of severe weather reports.  Click image to enlarge.)

Severe weather was widespread across central and southeast Illinois during the overnight hours of May 24 into May 25, as part of a significant severe weather outbreak across the Plains and Midwest.  Much of the damage in Illinois was due to high winds, but a few tornadoes also occurred.  Click here for a preliminary listing of severe weather reports in central and southeast Illinois.

This page is divided into 3 sections:  Specific tornado tracks, weather and radar images, and photos.

Tornado track across Scott County Scott County (click image to enlarge)

NWS personnel surveyed a tornado track across Scott County.

The tornado touched down 6 miles west-southwest of Winchester around 11:19 pm.  At this point, it was estimated at F0 intensity.  The tornado traveled northeast to a point 2 miles southwest of Winchester.  At this location, it caused F1 (approximately 110 mph) damage when it destroyed a mobile home, killing one person.  The storm began curving a bit more to the north, and crossed the northwest corner of Winchester near Old Route 36.  It was estimated at F0 intensity (around 70 mph) in Winchester, with damage to trees, roofs, and sheds.  The tornado lifted one mile north of Winchester around 11:26 pm.

The tornado's path was approximately 7.3 miles long, with a width of approximately 100 yards.

The tornado track was embedded in a larger area of straight-line wind damage.  This "weaker" wind damage was mainly composed of tree and power line damage.

Tornado track across Jacksonville Morgan County  (click image to enlarge)

NWS personnel surveyed damage across the Jacksonville area, to determine if it was due to high winds or a tornado.

A small tornado touched down in the southwest part of Jacksonville, near the intersection of IL-104 and Morton Avenue (approximately 2.4 miles west-southwest of downtown), around 11:35 pm.  The tornado tracked northeast and lifted about 1.2 miles west of downtown Jacksonville around 11:36 pm.  Most of the damage was rated as F0 or F1 intensity.  However, F2 strength damage was noted along a path about a block long, with wind speeds estimated at 120 mph. 

Damage across the remainder of Jacksonville was due to straight-line wind gusts in the 80 to 90 mph range.  The largest area of wind damage extended from the end of the tornado track to about a mile northeast of downtown, in an area about a quarter mile.  The damage in this area occurred between 11:36 and 11:40 pm.

There were no fatalities in Jacksonville, and one person was injured.

Damage Track across Sangamon and Christian Counties Sangamon and Christian Counties  (click image to enlarge)

NWS personnel conducted a damage survey across southern Sangamon and western Christian Counties on May 26.

A small tornado briefly touched down in the southwest part of Divernon at 12:09 am.  This tornado was approximately 75 yards wide, and was on the ground for a quarter mile.  It was rated as an F1 intensity tornado, with winds approximately 100 mph.  Straight line wind damage occurred nearby as well.

The survey team also found that the remaining damage across southern Sangamon and western Christian County was caused by straight-line winds.  Damage in Auburn was about a half mile wide and 3 miles long, and additional damage occurred near and just south of Pawnee.  In this location, an apartment complex was severely damaged by winds estimated at 90 mph.  The track of straight line winds extneded from Pawnee, across Lake Sangchris, to the Edinburg area in Christian County.

No deaths were reported in this area.  Minor injuries occurred when semi-trucks were blown over on I-55.

Weather and Radar Images:

Surface plot at 7 pm CDT The surface map of Illinois at 7 pm CDT.  Lifted index values are shown by the blue lines, and CAPE values are shaded (orange and red colors are approximately >3500 J/kg).
Surface plot at 10 pm CDT The surface map of Illinois at 10 pm CDT.  Lifted index values are shown by the blue lines, and CAPE values are shaded (orange and red colors are approximately >3500 J/kg).
Regional radar image at 10:42 pm The regional radar mosaic around 10:45 pm showed strong to severe thunderstorms developing across central Illinois, between Peoria and Taylorville, ahead of the main squall line.
Regional radar image at 11 pm The 11 pm radar image showed the main squall line reaching the Illinois River around Beardstown, with strong storms reaching the Decatur area.  The storms produced flash flooding across Schuyler County as they crossed the area.
Radar image of the Winchester area at 11:24 pm At 11:24 pm, the radar image showed the squall line coming into the Winchester area.  It was around this time that a trailer was destroyed southwest of Winchester, killing one person.
Radar image of the Jacksonville area at 11:44 pm By 11:44 pm, the storms had crossed the Jacksonville area.  A brief tornado touched down in the southwest edge of Jacksonville about 10 minutes earlier; extensive wind damage occurred across the remainder of the city.
Radar image across Sangamon County at 12:03 am At 12:03 am, the storms were moving across the western part of Sangamon County, approaching the Thayer and Auburn areas.  Winds estimated at 70 mph occurred in Berlin around this time, causing damage to a mobile home and garage. Extensive damage occurred across Auburn a few minutes later.
Radar image across Sangamon and Christian Counties at 12:13 am The storms reached the I-55 corridor by 12:13 am, rolling over a few semi-trailers around that time, causing 2 minor injuries.  A tornado had touched down briefly in Divernon a few minutes earlier.
Radar image across Christian County at 12:33 am By 12:33 am, the squall line was well into Christian County, and caused extensive damage along a track from Auburn to Edinburg.  Doppler radar showed some rotation along this track (right image), but storm surveys indicated that the damage was caused by high winds.
Radar image of Christian and western Shelby Counties at 1:08 am >By 1:08 am, the storms reached the Shelbyville and Cowden areas in Shelby County.  An automated weather station in Cowden reported a wind gust of 83 mph from this storm.


Pictures (click images to enlarge):
Overhead view of damage to motel and furniture store
Jacksonville (photo by Morgan County ESDA)
Hole punched into a roof by a vehicle propelled airborne

Destroyed trailer near Winchester.  
			Note the frame wrapped around the pole.
Southwest of Winchester
Roof collapse in Divernon

Large tree limbs fall on a house in Decatur
Decatur (photo by Macon County ESDA)
A large tree is uprooted in Decatur
Decatur (photo by Macon County ESDA)
Damage to a house and car in Decatur due to falling trees
Decatur (photo by Macon County ESDA)
A large tree is uprooted in Divernon

Apartment complex lost its roof in Auburn

USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.