Deadly Tornado Devastates Towns in Northern Illinois

tornado outbreak barreled across the mid-west on Thursday night. The strongest of these twisters caused widespread destruction, two deaths, and at least twenty injuries in the neighboring towns of Fairdale and Rochelle in northern Illinois.

The National Weather Service has given the deadly tornado a preliminary rating of EF-4, the second highest ranking on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. Measuring a half-mile wide with winds near 200mph, the wedge shaped twister is reported to have traveled nearly thirty miles on the ground.

Local officials in Fairdale say the storm affected every home in the community with eighteen swept completely off their foundations. The tornado also destroyed many trees and power lines across the area and even toppled a tractor-trailer on Interstate-39.

Tornadoes of this intensity are not that common in northern Illinois. The NWS says Thursday’s storm was the strongest tornado on record (since 1950) for the two counties where Fairdale and Rochelle are located – DeKalb County and Ogle County, respectively.

Year to date, tornado season – which typically begins to ramp up in March – has been fairly quiet. But, as this latest storm shows, it only takes one tornado to devastate a community.

Tornado Damage.  Image Credit: Rockford Fire Dept.

Tornado Damage. Image Credit: Rockford Fire Dept.

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About Melissa Fleming

Melissa Fleming is an environmental communicator and visual artist working at the intersection of art and science. She is passionate about exploring, learning, and sharing information about the natural world. She has presented her interdisciplinary work in a variety of mediums at venues and conferences around the world.