Disaster Resources - University of Illinois Extension

Severe Weather Preparedness Series

Illinois Severe Weather Facts

There are a variety of severe weather hazards that affect Illinois, including floods, thunderstorms, and tornadoes. Every year lives are threatened or lost, and property is destroyed by severe weather events in the State.

Tornadoes pose the greatest severe weather risk to residents of Illinois. An average of 27 tornadoes occur in the State per year. In 1995, there were 76 confirmed tornadoes, 53 of which occurred in May. There were no tornado fatalities last year, but a number of people were injured.

Most tornadoes produce rotating winds of 50 to 120 mph. They move at speeds of about 30 to 40 mph. There have been tornadoes recorded in Illinois with winds of 200 mph moving at up to 70 mph.

Severe thunderstorms can also produce very damaging winds. They can cause significant structural damage to buildings, especially weaker structures such as barns and outbuildings.

Thunderstorms may be accompanied by large hail and dangerous lightning. Hail rarely causes injuries , but it can cause millions of dollars in damages to crops, vehicles, and buildings. Lightning poses a significant risk to citizens. In Illinois, 19 people have been killed in the past 10 years, and hundreds more injured. Victims are usually struck outdoors, but they can also be injured indoors when on the telephone, using appliances, or taking a bath/shower.

Flooding is a significant severe weather hazard in Illinois. Nationwide, more than 75 percent of the Federal Disaster Declarations have historically resulted from flooding. Most casualties occur when motorists try to drive through flooded roadways and are swept away by strong currents.

For additional information on these or other hazards, contact the following:

Your local Emergency Services & Disaster Agency (ESDA)
Your Local Chapter of the American Red Cross (ARC)
The nearest office of the National Weather Service (NWS)

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) appreciates the input the Illinois Disaster Education Action (IDEA) Committee made to this campaign. They are a partnership of Federal, State, local, and private agencies and organizations with a sincere interest in promoting disaster awareness and public education. 

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