The largest recorded tornado outbreak in Illinois history occurred during the afternoon and evening hours of April 19, 1996. The day started off with overcast skies and cool temperatures, but temperatures warmed and dewpoints rose as a warm front pushed its way through Central Illinois. Supercells started developing just after 4PM, and by the end of the event, 39 tornadoes wreaked havoc across the state.
Throughout the afternoon and evening hours, tornadoes that ranged in strength from F0 to F3 dropped out of thunderstorms, causing major damage, injuries, and the loss of life. One parent supercell thunderstorm was responsible for dropping 10 tornadoes by itself. Out of those ten tornadoes, one was an F2 that struck Jacksonville, rolling two railroad cars and damaging parts of the prison along with 4 houses. One person was injured at the prison.
That same storm continued and produced three stronger tornadoes, all rated F3, producing chaos in Decatur, Champaign/Urbana, and in Ogden. Almost $30 million in damages was related just to this one supercell, along with 54 injuries. The strongest of these tornadoes struck the town of Ogden, with winds estimated up to 170 MPH, destroyed a total of 68 homes, 12 businesses, 3 churches, and the local grade school. There was one fatality with this monster, striking a semi as it was crossing I-74.
There were more tornadoes that struck locations in Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, and Kentucky, with the grand total of confirmed tornadoes for the entire event at 69. A total of 97 injuries and 1 fatality were reported, and damage estimates were over $96 million.
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