Violent tornado rare for Illinois, weather officials say

Drew Veskauf TimesNewspapers
The Nov. 17, 2013, tornado left a path of destruction through Washington seen from the air.

Nov. 17, 2013, brought with it 25 tornadoes that struck throughout Illinois, the strongest of which landed in Washington causing significant damage to the city.

Just like how the folk tale of lightning not striking more than once in the same place is debunked, tornadoes have the opportunity to hit the same place more than once in the same location.

“You can’t say with certainty that this will never happen again in the same area,” Chris Miller warning coordination meteorologist at the national weather service weather forecast office in Lincoln said.

The EF-4 tornado which struck Washington occurs roughly 1 percent of the time when compared to all other Illinois tornadoes, Miller said.

“Statistically you’d think that’s pretty low, but you can never say it’s zero percent because of the unpredictable nature of tornadoes,” Miller said.

Miller recounted of a tornado in Woodford County by Roanoke that was of the same size as the Nov. 17 tornado in July 13, 2004.

Although separated by 10 years, the two tornadoes crossed paths.

“So you can never say it’s never going to happen again. It’s highly unlikely. The key thing for people to keep in my mind is to make sure they are monitoring weather conditions in their area,” Miller said.

With November being outside of the peak, most people would suspect limited opportunities for tornadoes to form.

Miller said in the last five years, 79 tornadoes have been recorded outside of the peak season with 86 within the peak period.

Having more and more tornado activity in months outside of the norm stresses caution 12 months of the year.

“In Illinois, especially Illinois, we can never let our guard down,” Miller said. “We have to be prepared for tornadoes all year long. It’s not as likely to get one in winter, but they have been occurring with a little more frequency the last several years.”

For more information on tornado activity, preparedness and the National Weather Service in Illinois, visit www.crh.noaa.gov/ilx/.