Severe weather that swept through Illinois on Tuesday produced at least six tornadoes, the highest number of rare tornadoes recorded in January in the state since 1989, the National Weather Service said.
Five of the tornadoes occurred in central Illinois in or around the town of Decatur, while the sixth touched down near the Ford County community of Gibson City, the weather service said Wednesday.
Staff at the agency’s Chicago office planned to investigate storm damage in the Gibson City area on Wednesday, where at least two properties were damaged and power lines were downed. The Weather Service reported the tornado to be an EF-1, with peak winds estimated at 100 mph.
Tuesday’s storms damaged an old bowling alley in Decatur, ripping off the building’s siding and leaving its parking lot littered with debris and insulation, the Decatur Herald and Review reported.
Although the final tornado count from Tuesday’s outbreak isn’t necessarily six, the Weather Service said the six confirmed tornadoes were the most tornadoes produced by a severe weather event in January in Illinois since eight were recorded on January 7, 1989.
The weather service said all six tornadoes were spawned by “mini supercell thunderstorms,” which are rotating thunderstorms often capable of producing extreme weather.
How rare is that?
Tuesday’s tornadoes were the first January tornado in the state since Jan. 11, 2020, when an EF-1 tornado was reported near Union County in southern Illinois. With at least six confirmed so far, it also scores the most January tornadoes in the state since Jan. 7, 1989.
Although the final tornado count for this event is not necessarily six, with six confirmed, this is the highest tornado count in a January event for the state of Illinois since eight on the 7 January 1989.
The Weather Service noted that the tornado near Gibson City was only the third January tornado reported in the Chicago office area since 1950. Two more were documented on January 25, 1950 in Kankakee County and January 7 2008 to McHenry and Boone. counties.
“Winter tornadoes are rare as far north as the NWS Chicago forecast area, although one tornado did occur last winter, an EF0 tornado in Lake County, Indiana on December 10, 2021,” said said the NWS Chicago.