Monday, March 1

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Illinois Severe Weather
Preparedness Week    
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[MARCH 1, 2004]  Thunderstorm season will be upon us shortly! To get everyone ready for
the impact of thunderstorms, the National Weather Service offices in Illinois are conducting Severe Weather Preparedness Week from Feb. 29 to March 6. Severe weather hazards that affect Illinois include tornadoes, lightning, floods and flash floods, damaging winds, and large hail. Severe weather hazards have the potential to cause extensive property damage, injury and death.

Illinois severe weather facts

Tornadoes

  • A tornado is a violent, rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground.
  • Most tornado damage paths are less than 100 yards wide and a couple of miles long, but the paths can be up to a mile wide and 50 miles long.
  • Most tornadoes occur in the spring, but they have occurred every month of the year.
  • In 2001, 21 tornadoes were reported in Illinois.
  • In 2002, 35 tornadoes occurred in Illinois, resulting in four deaths and 64 injuries.
  • In 2003, a record-setting 120 tornadoes occurred in Illinois, resulting in two deaths, 81 injuries and more than $40 million in damage. The previous record was 107, set in 1974.
  • There is an average of 31 tornadoes per year in Illinois. Most tornadoes produce winds 60 to 112 mph. The most violent tornadoes can produce winds up to 318 mph.

Thunderstorms

  • Severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes, damaging winds, lightning, hail or heavy rain.
  • Thunderstorms are most likely to happen in the spring and summer.
  • In Illinois, severe thunderstorms frequently occur in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Each year, more people are killed by lightning than tornadoes in the United States. Most deaths occur in open fields (ball fields) and under or near trees.
  • Ninety-six people have been killed by lightning in Illinois in the past 40 years.
  • In 2001, Illinois ranked second in the United States for lightning fatalities.
  • In 2003, large hail resulted in nearly $20 million in property and crop damage in Illinois. The largest hailstone in 2003 was in the McLean County town of Stanford, where 4 inches of hail fell on the evening of May 9.

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Flooding

  • Flooding is the No. 1 severe weather killer nationwide.
  • Nationally, 75 percent of the presidential disaster declarations are the result of floods.
  • Floods can take several hours to days to develop.
  • The most dangerous type of flooding is a flash flood. Flash floods can sweep away everyone and everything in their path. Most flash floods are caused by slow-moving thunderstorms. Flash floods occur most frequently at night, in mid- to late summer.
  • Fourteen people in Illinois have died from floods since 1995. Seven of the 13 deaths occurred in vehicles. Other deaths occur when people (especially children) play in or near floodwaters and when people living near flooded streams try to protect their property.

[Provided by Chris Miller
warning coordination meteorologist,
National Weather Service, Lincoln
]

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