Illinois State Water Survey - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

State Climatologist Office for Illinois

Tornadoes in Illinois

Dr. Jim Angel, State Climatologist

Introduction

Illinois is ranked high in terms of the number of tornadoes and tornado impacts (damages, deaths, and injuries). In fact, Illinois has experienced one of the worst tornadoes in U.S. history. The infamous Tri-State tornado occurred on March 18, 1925, passing through southern Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, leaving 695 dead and 2000 injured. This page provides a variety of information on tornadoes including maps, graphs, and significant events. Click here for more background information.

Recent Conditions

2016

  • In 2016, there were 48 tornado reports, 0 deaths, and 16 injuries in Illinois. Here is the list of 2016 reports.

2015

  • In 2015, there were 83 tornado reports, 2 deaths, and 27 injuries in Illinois. Here is the list of 2015 events.

2014

2013

Maps and Graphs

Click on the icons below to get the maps or graphs

Illinois Tornado Maps Illinois Tornado Graphs

First Radar-Detected Tornado

radar hook echo The first documented case of a tornado being detected by radar occurred near Champaign, Illinois. On April 9, 1953, while running tests on a research radar unit after hours, Don Staggs of the Illinois State Water Survey discovered an interesting radar return and began recording it using a 35mm camera. As a result, he was able to document the development, growth, and movement of a tornado, as identified by the distinctive " hook echo". This was later correlated with damage reports from the area. This discovery helped in push for a nationwide network of radar sites in the 1950s to spot and track tornadoes.

Other Significant Illinois Tornadoes

Illinois State Water Survey publications

Other Links

Table 1. Illinois tornado events, deaths, and injuries since 1981.
Year Number of Events Deaths Injuries
2016 48 0 16
2015 83 2 17
2014 34 0 2
2013 45 8 189
2012 39 8 111
2011 76 0 8
2010 52 1 40
2009 59 0 27
2008 47 0 11
2007 23 0 3
2006 124** 1 49
2005 19 0 0
2004 80 9 23
2003 120 2 82
2002 35 4 64
2001 21 0 3
2000 55 0 8
1999 64 3 29
1998 99 0 27
1997 29 0 3
1996 62 1 80
1995 76 0 80
1994 20 0 0
1993 34 0 0
1992 23 0 2
1991 32 0 23
1990 50 30 365
1989 15 0 56
1988 20 0 6
1987 22 0 2
1986 22 0 12
1985 15 1 11
1984 34 1 20
1983 14 2 43
1982 35 13 287
1981 33 1 48
1980 14 0 7

**new record for Illinois

Illinois State Water Survey

2204 Griffith Dr
Champaign, IL 61820-7463
217-333-0729
jimangel@illinois.edu

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