Death Toll At 6 After Storms Explode Over Illinois
The extent of the destruction across southern and central Illinois is becoming clearer as searchers comb through the rubble of homes and businesses that were in the path of tornadoes and severe weather that ripped through the region.
When we last updated the story Sunday evening, reports were just emerging about fatalities from earlier in the day. Now, there's sad news: The Associated Press writes that in Illinois "at least six people were killed, including an elderly man and his sister who died when a tornado struck their farmhouse in rural New Minden in southern Illinois, officials said."
According to the Chicago Tribune, "in southern Illinois, severe weather decimated farms, killing at least five people, including an elderly brother and sister, when a tornado barreled through their house. Farther north, near Peoria, a tornado flattened large swaths of Washington, killing at least one person and sending about 50 others to local hospitals."
The Tribune adds that:
"Meteorologists had predicted the violent storms days ahead of time, anticipating volatile atmospheric conditions that are freakish for a season when tornadoes are a relative rarity. 'Weather doesn't get more extreme than this in Illinois very often,' said Matt Friedlein, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
"The storms exploded over Illinois when gusting winter jet streams from the northwest collided with the unusually warm and moist air that had arrived Saturday."
Our colleagues at Peoria's WCBU report that in Washington, Ill., a town of 15,000 people, entire subdivisions were destroyed. On Morning Edition, WCBU's Denise Molina said that officials "immediately shut off access to the city following the tornado and emergency responders from surrounding areas and the Illinois National Guard were called to the scene for search and rescue efforts."
Much of the nation got an unusual view of the strong weather when about 58,000 people at Chicago's Soldier Field for the NFL game between the hometown Bears and the Baltimore Ravens had to leave their seats and seek shelter in the stadium's concourses. The game, which was delayed as the storm blew through, was being broadcast.
For the fans, the experience wasn't too bad. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, many "crammed under overhangs and waited out the storm in the United Club, watching TV and buying food and drinks."