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Illinois Deadliest November Tornado Outbreak On Record

By: Christopher C. Burt, 10:50 PM GMT on November 18, 2013

Illinois Deadliest November Tornado Outbreak On Record

With six fatalities in Illinois attributed to the tornado outbreak on Sunday it would appear this was the deadliest tornado event on record for the state during the month of November. Here is a brief summary of other deadly tornado events to have taken place in Illinois during November and December.



A map of all the areas subjected to storm warnings of one sort or the other from Sunday morning to 3:30 a.m. ET Monday. Some additional warnings for high winds went up for the New York City area after that time. Source NWS.

According to tornado expert Thomas Grazulis, and outlined in his epic book ‘Significant Tornadoes: 1680-1991’ (updated to 1995) the previous deadly tornado events to take place in Illinois during November were as follows:

Nov. 9, 1864: 5 dead in Perry County (4 in Chester and 1 near Richview, same tornado). No rating of tornado strength.

Nov. 6, 1885: 1 dead in White County. F-3 tornado.

Nov. 17, 1892: 2 dead in Red Bud, Ill. (Randolph County). F-3 tornado.

Nov. 11, 1911: 2 dead in Mason County. F-3 tornado.

Nov. 12, 1912: 1 dead in Clark County. F-2 tornado.

Nov. 12, 1965: 2 dead in Channahon, Ill. (along Grundy/Will County line). F-3 tornado.

Although it is indeed late in the season for significant (EF-2 or stronger) and deadly tornadoes to form in Illinois, there have been several deadly tornado events in December as well:

Dec. 2, 1950: 3 dead from two tornadoes in Madison and Bond Counties. F-3 and F-2 tornadoes.

Dec. 18, 1957: 13 dead from three tornadoes in Jefferson, Perry, Jackson, Williamson, and Franklin counties. The Perry County tornado was rated F-5 (one death), and the Jackson County tornado F-4 where 11 died southeast of Murphysboro. Another F-4 killed one in Jefferson County. This, of course, was not only the deadliest but also most violent late-season tornado outbreak in Illinois history.



Map of the tornado outbreak that struck Illinois hard on December 18, 1957 killing 13 in the state in addition to 4 other fatalities in Missouri. Map from Tornado History Project.

Dec. 2, 1982: 2 dead in Clinton County. F-3 tornado.

It has yet to be determined just how many tornadoes touched down in Illinois on Sunday (there have been about 68 tornado reports in all so far (for the entire region), but many of these may be duplicate reports). It does appear, however, that at least one EF-4 tornado touched down near New Minden, Illinois east of St. Louis and it also appears likely that a 2nd EF-4 struck the town of Washington. Jeff Masters has more details about the event in his Monday blog.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Mini Blog Tornadoes

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

Quoting 315. TropicalAnalystwx13:
The Washington, Illinois tornado has been given a more specific (but still preliminary) rating of EF-4 with maximum sustained winds of 190 mph. It was on the ground for 46.2 miles and reached a half mile wide.

EDIT to add italicized.


Quoting 326. 1900hurricane:
I read somewhere (don't remember if it was this blog or not) that someone was skeptical about yesterday's tornadoes lofting debris and moving them many miles downwind (checks and such). I think this should put that skepticism to rest.






(Image that belongs to the second quote).
Thank you for the informative post Chris..
Hey Chris, sorry to go a little off topic, but I posted something in Dr Master's blog that others thought you would be interested in seeing. The original comment is as follows:

Quoting 248. pottery:
17.72'' of rain in 2 hours in Sardinia is Major rainfall. (Dr. M's comments above).

Scary stuff there.

And those Tornados.
Mama Mia !

That much rainfall for so little time is extremely notable indeed, and if verified, would be very near (if not in excess of) the world record intensity for that duration. The May 31, 1935 D'Hanis, TX rainfall holds the 2.75 hour record at 22", which works out to an 8 in/h average. The rate in question is in excess of that (albeit for a shorter duration). Still though, a possible extreme event like that needs verification. As it stands, I find it somewhat hard to believe that even if a significant orographic factor was at play, a rainfall of that intensity could occur that far north during the colder months. It'll be interesting to hear how that report is handled in the meteorological community.
And now for a comment more on topic, I wonder if a similar type of outbreak was responsible for the Tri-State Tornado of 1925. While on the other side of winter, it too occurred in this area, which seemed to be somewhat unusually far north for the time of year.
Quoting 3. 1900hurricane:
Hey Chris, sorry to go a little off topic, but I posted something in Dr Master's blog that others thought you would be interested in seeing. The original comment is as follows:


That much rainfall for so little time is extremely notable indeed, and if verified, would be very near (if not in excess of) the world record intensity for that duration. The May 31, 1935 D'Hanis, TX rainfall holds the 2.75 hour record at 22", which works out to an 8 in/h average. The rate in question is in excess of that (albeit for a shorter duration). Still though, a possible extreme event like that needs verification. As it stands, I find it somewhat hard to believe that even if a significant orographic factor was at play, a rainfall of that intensity could occur that far north during the colder months. It'll be interesting to hear how that report is handled in the meteorological community.


I think Jeff was quoting a media report that was wrong so far as the timing of the deluge. It occurred over (maybe 12 hours not two) and most reports I'm seeing it was actually a 24 hour total. Very extreme nevertheless.
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