June 13, 2009 is the 33rd anniversary of the Lemont tornado that went through DuPage and Cook counties back in 1976.
The following is an article concerning the tornado from the National Weather Service Chicago Newsletter, back in Spring of 1996.
Remembering the Lemont Tornado of 1976
By Christopher Gitro, Meteorologist Intern in WEATHER CURRENTS
National Weather Service, Chicago, Spring 2006 Volume 4 Issue 1
One day will be remembered by many people living in the DuPage and Cook County areas during the early summer of 1976. The date would be June 13 and the day began as any normal day would in the Chicago Metro area. The region had been experiencing a very warm period with a high of 94 degrees being observed the previous day. With afternoon temperatures hovering in the lower to middle 80’s, little would be known that in just a few minutes after 5:00 PM, sudden chaos was about to strike southern DuPage and southwestern Cook Counties.
A strong tornado developed across the Lemont area at 5:18 PM, just north of downtown. From this point, the tornado began taking a rather erratic track, first heading southeast through the eastern sections of town. The tornado grew more ferocious during this time, causing extensive damage at the Hillcrest Subdivision. From there the storm began heading in a northerly direction, and then northwest where it ripped the roof off an Argonne National Laboratory reactor. The tornado then crossed I-55 where it inflicted more damage on homes before finally dissipating. In the storms wake, 2 lives were lost while 23 people were injured. The total track of the tornado was 8 miles long with a width of up to 800 yards. Total damage approached 13 million dollars. After all the damage was surveyed, the final rating of the tornado was an F-4 on the Fujita Scale, meaning winds ranged from 207 – 260 mph. Of particular interest with this tornado was the fact that two satellite anticyclonic (clockwise rotating) tornadoes were produced. In addition, the total time on the ground neared one hour, however the total distance traveled was only about 8 miles. Further research of the storm indicated that the storm was nearly stationary for a period in the tornado’s lifecycle, ultimately contributing to such the short distance traveled.
If you would like to see pictures of the damage from the event, please go to the Lemont Area Historical Society and Museum website.