Most powerful Chicago-area tornado in 25 years

The EF-3 tornado that caused, in some parts of Coal City, Ill., massive damage to property on Monday, June 22, was the strongest tornado to hit the Chicago area in 25 years, the National Weather Service said, CBS News reports.

A playground set lays on the ground in the backyard of a house on West Daisy Street in Coal City on June 23, crumbled by a powerful tornado the previous day. (Jon Durr / Getty Images)

The NWS tweeted to confirm that nine tornadoes struck the area Monday, along a path from Harmon to Kankakee. Two of the possible tornadoes were EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, while the others—except the one that hit Coal City—were EF-1 tornadoes.

The Coal City tornado was rated a high-end EF-3 by the NWS with maximum estimated winds of up to 160 mph, a maximum width of about ¾ mile, and a total path length of at least 16.5 miles. Coal City is a community of about 5,000 people in Chicago’s far-southwest suburbs. At least five people there were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, but no fatalities or missing persons have been reported from the storm.

The worst damage was caused when the tornado crossed Interstate 55 and the grounds of the Braidwood Nuclear Power Plant, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing NWS meteorologist Matt Friedlein at a news conference Tuesday after surveying the Coal City area.

“We’re unsure if there was any structural damage there,” the Chicago Tribune quoted him as saying about the nuclear power plant. “It looks like it just crossed part of the property there.”

The most powerful tornado on record in the Chicago area is the EF-5 tornado that whisked west-suburban Plainfield on Aug 28, 1990. It is believed to have been the only EF-5 tornado ever to strike the Chicago area, and its 200-mph winds left 29 people dead and 353 injured.

Recovery efforts are under way in Coal City and along the path of Monday’s storm, as the NWS predicts an end to rain and thunder Thursday afternoon:

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Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.