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Question of the day

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

* Yesterday near Mattoon, via WCIA


* We didn’t get nearly that intensity in Springfield yesterday, but I happened to arrive at the Stratton just after the alarms went off in the building…

I think I’ve told you that my great-grandmother died during the Tri-State Tornado of 1925.

* The Question: What are your scariest tornado moments?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Siriusly - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 12:33 pm:

    I was maybe nine or ten, at a camp on a lake in WI. No warning, lights went out and the wind came all at once. We ducked under tables and were all okay. When we came out side afer some canoes and row boats were in the tops of the trees. Lucky but scared.

  2. - Shield - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 12:35 pm:

    My great grandmother was on hospice at home and there was a tornado about a mile away, give or take a couple of blocks. It was small and was dissipating as it drew closer, but it was something else to have to make sure her bed and equipment was moved into the hallway and away from windows.

  3. - Jabes - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 12:39 pm:

    in the late 1990s there was a tornado in Salt Lake City, UT. It passed right by our building, the far side of where I worked. A tower crane directly across the street from my building buckled, but the operator had had time to move the swing arm away from our building before he made it off the crane. It would have landed on our building. We didn’t know it was a tornado until afterward, since they’re so rare in Salt Lake City. It went on to uproot all the old trees at our Capitol Building and barely missed a large hospital. There was one fatality a few blocks west of where I worked.

  4. - NIU Grad - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 12:44 pm:

    Not a scary moment for me, but I first was introduced to Fairdale when I was knocking on doors for a campaign. It struck me how small and isolated that community was. When that massive tornado a few years back turned away from DeKalb and headed north to Fairdale my heart just sank because of how much damage a tornado can do to an area like that. I haven’t been back in years and hope the neighborhood has recovered.

  5. - Give Me A Break - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 12:46 pm:

    March 2006, the sirens went off in Springfield we went to our basement where we lived at the time around the Blessed Sacrament area, we heard what sounded like a giant vacuum sucking sound, a few mins later we realized a tornado had passed right over our home and touched down three blocks away.

  6. - Dysfunction Junction - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 12:51 pm:

    2006 tornado in Springfield roared through our neighborhood like a literal steam locomotive, tearing the power lines off the house and sucking the screen door and windows out of our front porch. Scary time down in the basement, but it was scarier when we finally came out and saw the damage just a few blocks away from our house. A week without power was also no fun.

  7. - Joe Schmoe - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 12:52 pm:

    The tornado watchers were sure out yesterday afternoon. SUV’s with flashing lights, roof-mounted cameras and wind gauges were running back and forth on I-72. I didn’t see Dorothy or the Wicked Witch of the West anywhere…..

  8. - Dog Lover - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 12:53 pm:

    Went to the shower house in the campground with our dogs once. Other campers were in there with their dogs too. No dog trouble. No tornado or wind damage. Thankful.

  9. - @misterjayem - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 12:54 pm:

    “What are your scariest tornado moments?”

    Because we routinely go to the basement when there’s a warning — a couple times each year — none of them are really scary while they are happening.

    “Probably just another false alarm.”

    But not always.

    Last spring, for instance, I realized that I *should have* been scared only after it was all over and I went outside and saw the damage.

    – MrJM

  10. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 12:55 pm:

    In 1990, I was with an elected official and we got a tour of the devastation following the Plainfield F5 a few hours after it happened. I’ll never forget the scale of that damage. Horrifying.

  11. - Mason born - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:04 pm:

    In the late 80’s as a kid I was with my dad when we saw a tornado coming across our fields heading roughly towards our house dad raced it home to get mom and my siblings in the basement. It missed the house by a 1/4 mile or so but left quite the bath through the young corn.

  12. - Cubs in '16 - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:06 pm:

    Five or six years ago I was on the Interstate heading home from work. I could see there was a big storm immediately to my right but at that moment there was no precipitation of any kind. A box truck approximately 1/4 mile ahead of me suddenly flipped on its side and I quickly pulled over onto the shoulder. A small funnel then passed within 500 feet of me. It rocked my car and pelted it with debris. It appeared so suddenly I could do nothing but pray.

  13. - Han's Solo Cup - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:07 pm:

    Had my car spun around by a rain wrapped tornado about 20 years ago. It was raining so hard I had pulled over. The car started vibrating and bucked up and down like a horse before ending up facing the opposite direction. After it went by I could see the uprooted trees and a couple of destroyed barns. Never did actually see the twister due to the rain. My heart rate had to be close to 200 bpm when the car started moving. Probably as scared for my life as I’ve ever been.

  14. - Give Me A Break - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:08 pm:

    Anyone else at the Statehouse during Rod’s second year when the sirens went off and we all went to the basements and the tunnels. I spent 45 mins standing next to a GOP member who spent their time explaining why Rod was an idiot everyone near.

  15. - Paddyrollingstone - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:09 pm:

    - 47th Ward - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 12:55 pm:

    In 1990, I was with an elected official and we got a tour of the devastation following the Plainfield F5 a few hours after it happened. I’ll never forget the scale of that damage. Horrifying.

    Agreed. My uncle was an elected official at the time. He had been a door gunner in Vietnam on a helicopter gunship. Said he’d never seen anything like Plainfield.

  16. - MSIX - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:10 pm:

    We’ve lived here 19 years and last night was the first time we’ve heard the tornado sirens. Pretty eerie. This storm passed to our north by about a mile, but there was never a tornado warning for our immediate area like there was earlier this season.

  17. - Give Us Barabbas - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:11 pm:

    As a kid, I saw the mountain dew colored sky over my neighborhood in Chicago, it was one of those rare tornadoes that doesn’t dodge the heat island of the city. We heard the defense sirens go off and wondered if Da Mare was celebrating another baseball win. Afterwards we saw the broken glass and damage at our National Foods grocery, and it made an impression.

    We still joke about Don Hickman coming on air in Springfield after a small one grazed Cantrell, just North of Springfield, no casualties…but Channel 20 always hyped their weather coverage. He led the night with a full on Kent Brockman; “Good evening. Nine hogs are dead in Cantrell tonight, after a tornado landed just North of Springfield… Zoozan Finzen has more. “

  18. - Eddy - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:22 pm:

    I had two years on the job at the fire department. We went mutual aid to Plainfield for the tornado. Those memories were so overwhelming, plus one of our fellow firefighters lost everything in that storm. We helped the residents and our brother fire fighter also. Remember it like it was yesterday

  19. - Sir Reel - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:25 pm:

    Years ago in Michigan, a tornado hit us and I was taking a bath in an old farmhouse with a 6 foot window next to the tub. Outside the window it looked like grey soup, but the window didn’t blow. I went outside and it looked like pink snow was in the trees. It was fiberglass insulation from nearby houses (not from our place which had no insulation). Newer, more airtight houses didn’t fair well. One was lifted up and set back down slightly rotated. One was completely gone - just a concrete slab with no debris whatsoever. There was one fatality - a young boy in a truck on nearby I-69.

  20. - EssentialStateEmployeeFromChatham - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:27 pm:

    ==Five or six years ago I was on the Interstate heading home from work. I could see there was a big storm immediately to my right but at that moment there was no precipitation of any kind. A box truck approximately 1/4 mile ahead of me suddenly flipped on its side and I quickly pulled over onto the shoulder. A small funnel then passed within 500 feet of me. It rocked my car and pelted it with debris. It appeared so suddenly I could do nothing but pray.==

    Could that storm had been the Rochelle-Fairdale tornado of Apr. 9, 2015? It was at its maximum strength as it crossed I-39 en route to Fairdale:

    YouTube video of the I-39 tornado crossing:

  21. - Anon221 - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:29 pm:

    1968 should have been, but I was too young to understand and remember the entirety of that massive outbreak in Central Illinois. Learning that history in later years makes me immensely appreciative of the Doppler Radar in Lincoln and the early warning it can help provide.

  22. - yinn - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:31 pm:

    Palm Sunday tornadoes, 1965, Starke County, IN. I was 5. We’d just come inside from playing. Dad and Mom were in the kitchen talking, Mom holding the baby. Looking out the window, Dad said, “Is that what I think it is?” and they brought my sister and me into the hallway. I was uneasy at the sudden change in behavior but didn’t understand what was going on at the time, and after a little while things went back to normal. But the next day we drove around town and a nearby lake, and I was awestruck at the devastation, especially the uprooted, broken trees.

    About 20 years later, there was a warning when I was home alone with the kitties and was sure a tornado was going to hit. I tore the mattress off the bed in the guest room, wrestled it to the bathroom (which was a converted bedroom, so it was huge), wrangled the cats and huddled in the tub under a corner of that mattress until the all-clear. Afterward I was reduced to about one-third of my former strength and waited for the husband to get home to move the mattress back, lol.

  23. - Cable Line Beer Gardener - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:32 pm:

    April 20, 1967 Peotone Road in Peotone on a bridge riding in my Dad’s 65 Mustang and seeing a tornado drop out of a cloud-I remember we stopped in place on top of that bridge-what I didn’t know was my Dad had floored that car but the tornado was too strong and the car wouldn’t move-I don’t know if it was the same tornado but Belvidere took a direct hit with heavy loss of lives.

  24. - repete - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:35 pm:

    “What are your scariest tornado moments?”

    As a youngster my scariest moments were that of watching my mother as we waited in the basement for storms to pass. Father worked for a power company and was always gone during storms. Mom and her 5 young children huddled around a transistor radio. Mom was so scared. Luckily we were never hurt in a storm.

  25. - Responsa - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:36 pm:

    We weren’t too far from the Oak Lawn tornado in April’67 and saw the damage first hand. But have never seen one coming, been directly involved or affected by a tornado. Hey, we’ve all seen the Wizard of OZ though.

  26. - Huh? - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:43 pm:

    1990 Plainfield tornado. Was supposed to be driving home on I55 when the storm hit. Fortunately, got delayed at work for about an hour. Drove through the debris field along the interstate when finally left work.

  27. - RNUG - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:44 pm:

    The twin EF2 tornadoes in Springfield in 2006. One missed the house I was living in at the time (near SW side of Springfield) by about 100 feet (closest wide damage); we were mostly in the basement during the storm. That same tornado, the eye hit the house I was renting out at the time … where I live now. Luckily we had relatively minor damage, but were without power for over a week at both places.

    A good friend was on MacArthur when it hit; had his car lifted up, spun around, and dropped in the lot in front of the car wash. Scared the heck out of him; he spent the rest of the night in the basement at our house.

  28. - HangingOn - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:44 pm:

    November 17, 2013, Washington, IL. Lived in a small duplex with my then 9 year old. Had just looked outside and realized I couldn’t even see the tree 10 feet from my front door it was raining so hard. Sirens went off, no cellar or anything. Took my daughter into the hallway and threw myself on top of her. Luckily it missed, but it was close. It hit the Wastewater Treatment plant about 1/4 mile away, went through my sister’s yard, and hit my Dad’s garage.

  29. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 1:48 pm:

    Was camping in the 60’s when I was 6-7. A beautiful day turned dark and ugly. Ended up under a big covert between the lakes, wading in water with many other campers. Tornado hit to the south of campground but lots of stuff was flying around. Campers everywhere after walking around looking for stuff. Plenty of wood for a camp fire that night that took a whole no meaning to be thankful.

  30. - WillRez - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 2:02 pm:

    The Plainfield tornado of 1990. Sitting in my office in Joliet, ten miles away. The windows were bulging but did not break. What devastation that storm caused.

    Last summer’s derecho was a doozy as well. Hi intensity, but relatively little damage.

  31. - Joe Bidenopolous - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 2:13 pm:

    ===The twin EF2 tornadoes in Springfield in 2006.===

    That was a Sunday? I had to be at the Cap the next day, so I was rolling into town at about 9 PM-ish and it was eerie. Even coming off I-55 in Sherman all of the power was out and it was pitch black. Branches all over Peoria Road even though I don’t think the tornado got that far. And 9th street was a total disaster - IIRC, I had to make several detours to get to the hotel, and it wasn’t until I got there that I found out what happened exactly.

    Scariest for me was a nighttime tornado in east-central Illinois ages ago. No basement, storm was fierce. And every time there was lightning, you could see the tornado in the distance (until we hid in the tub). It didn’t end up being particularly close - a couple of miles - but on the dark night in a violent storm we had no way of knowing that.

  32. - Amalia - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 2:22 pm:

    Oak Lawn tornado, not too close, but close. did not see the tornado but did see the green sky. and the aftermath that stretched way east. terrifying sounds and sights. send that photo to Tom Skilling.

  33. - Proud Papa Bear - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 2:24 pm:

    I was with a van full of tennis Special Olympics athletes coming back from a tournament in Decatur when we saw massive black funnel in the sky.
    We hightailed it to the nearest town, where a Hardee’s let us take cover in their walk-in freezer until it passed.

  34. - RNUG - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 2:29 pm:

    == That was a Sunday? ==

    Yes, March 12, 2006. If memory is working, it hit about 7:30 or 8:00 pm.

  35. - Sangamo Girl - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 2:31 pm:

    All WSW of Springfield
    Sunday, March 12, 2006. All four of us in the basement listening to the tornado get closer. They do indeed sound like a train. It hopped over the house but knocked over the large shed we used for the cars and the wind/pressure change blew out the basement window. Got a new garage out of that one.
    Sunday, March 8, 2009. Normally mild-mannered Mr. SG came pounding down the stairs shouting to run to the basement. He was looking out the window to the west and saw a funnel cloud heading our way. It took a left turn and our neighbors had damage and we found debris in our yard, but no damage to us.
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009. Mr. SG and I were at work in Springfield. Bad weather was approaching and I was keeping an eye on the weather radar. I saw that tell-tale hook start to form disturbingly close to our house. Daughter #2 was home alone. It was not her first rodeo and when I called to tell her to head to the basement, she had the dogs and her backpack ready to head down. When it was over it took us well over a panicked hour to get home because of the debris and downed lines. When a neighbor ventured over to make sure she was OK he couldn’t find her at first. Bless her heart, she was in the attic getting the rotary dial phone because the power was out and she knew we would call. Quite a trooper that kid. Tons of tree damage quite close to the house but not one bit of damage to the house.

  36. - Drake Mallard - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 2:36 pm:

    Mid 60’s Lockport. 1 Went through our backyard and ripped out a massive oak tree. Was huddled in the basement with my family.
    Every time I hear a locamotive turban I think of that night. It really did sound like a freight train right outside our wall

  37. - Cubs in '16 - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 2:44 pm:

    ===Could that storm had been the Rochelle-Fairdale tornado of Apr. 9, 2015?===

    The timeline seems about right but I was on I-57 just south of Mattoon at the time.

  38. - phenom-anon - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 2:49 pm:

    == Anyone else at the Statehouse during Rod’s second year when the sirens went off and we all went to the basements and the tunnels.==

    Yep, I remember capitol police coming in the house chamber and clearing us out and making us go to the basement. The stairs were clogged with senators and reps heading down. I was surprised how freaked out many of the Chicago area folks were.

  39. - Papa2008 - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 2:53 pm:

    A friend and I, while playing golf, had a storm pop up out of nowhere. We parked under a small awning/picnic area to get out of the rain. Facing west. Watched a tornado come down about 400 yards away, heading directly toward us. I had enough time to say “It’s been an honor to know you”. Just before the cart, with us in it, would have been blown to Oz, the tornado lifted and passed directly overhead. We didn’t finish the round.

  40. - EssentialStateEmployeeFromChatham - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 2:54 pm:

    ==I spent 45 mins standing next to a GOP member who spent their time explaining why Rod was an idiot everyone near.==

    Would that GOP member happened to have been Bill Black?

  41. - DCC - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 3:25 pm:

    March 8, 2009. Standing on our front porch on the West side of Springfield looking at the weather when all of the sudden I see the shingles flying off of a house less than a block away. I said to my pregnant wife, “I don’t think we should be out here” and we hurried to the basement. Sirens went off a couple of minutes later.

  42. - TheInvisibleMan - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 3:45 pm:

    1990 august 28th tornado in Will County.

    Direct hit on my house, while I was there.

    An unreal experience. Many of my friends died.

  43. - EssentialStateEmployeeFromChatham - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 5:23 pm:

    Vividly remember Mar. 12, 2006. Still lived within the city at the time. Will never forget being in a neighbor’s basement apartment to take shelter, and they had Channel 20 on right at the time the tornadoes went over their studio. Saw a camera scene of the garage doors at their studio closing right when the lights went off. And stayed off for at least 8 hours in my old neighborhood. Not much damage in my old neighborhood, mainly limb-related, but some of the worst damage was only a mile south of where I lived at the time.

    For most of the rest of 2006 it seemed like many Springfield residents and Channel 20 seemed to really hype up and get nervous about severe weather threats ever since that terrible March 12. Then 20 continued to hype up severe weather the most, ultimately leading to that “Code Red” system for even the threat of a few sprinkles or a marginal risk of severe weather in part of their viewing area (even if it was only for Effingham).

  44. - former state employee - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 6:08 pm:

    In the mid-50’s I was a first grader when my mother picked me up at school covered in blood and in shock. She and my little brother had been a few blocks from home when a tornado picked up our new ‘56 buick, hurled it 2 blocks away facing the other direction. Our little dog was outside at the time and disappeared for 3 days, but found her way back home. Oh, and the car was totaled.

  45. - Mugs - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 7:04 pm:

    Driving home to Joliet from Oswego soon after the 1990 tornado passed by there and seeing ambulances from all over northern Illinois headed southwest but now knowing to where they were rushing.

  46. - Mugs - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 7:08 pm:

    “not knowing”

  47. - DQCardsFan - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 7:36 pm:

    I live in Du Quoin, 15 miles north of the Tri-State Torrnado, and I’ve never seen one. In the days after the Marion Torrnado, I rented a plane and flew over Marion. I was and still am stunned by the devastation a tornado can leave in its wake. I remain convinced and ready to hunker down during warnings.

  48. - Odysseus - Tuesday, May 4, 21 @ 10:43 pm:

    Early 2000s, my brother and I were driving north on I-57 near Arcola when a tornado passed eastbound about a quarter mile behind us.

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