February 28,2017 Storm Damage Survey Results

National Weather Service Officially Rates Washburn Tornado an EF-3. 

Severe weather rolled through North-Central Illinois Tuesday evening, February 28, 2017. Unseasonably warm, moist air filled into Central Illinois ahead of a strong cold front. Abundant shear and instability set the stage for an early spring severe weather event.  

Two rounds of severe storms developed ahead of a cold front. The first round of strong-severe storms fired west of the Illinois River between 3-4 pm Tuesday. Storms progressed eastward, while additional storms developed and trained over the same areas. The greatest tornado risk occurred early Tuesday evening, between 3-8 pm. Large hail and damaging winds posed the most significant threats with severe storms 8 pm through midnight. La Salle County was one of the hardest hit areas. The National Weather Service Office in Chicago officially rated the Naplate-Ottawa Tornado an EF-3, with maximum peak wind gusts of 155 mph. The tornado struck the area just before 5 pm and was ultimately responsible for two deaths.  

A second area that received significant damage was Washburn/Rutland (Woodford/Marshall County Line). The National Weather Service in Central Illinois officially rated the Washburn tornado an EF-3, with maximum peak wind gusts of 150-160 mph. The tornado formed just east of Chillicothe before moving east and striking Washburn at 5:15 pm. The EF-3 tornado would then continue east and hit Rutland before dissipating at 5:50 pm (The tornado traveled 18 miles). Zero deaths/injuries were reported. Numerous houses and businesses were obliterated. Some houses were completely gone. Large trees were uprooted and power lines were destroyed.  

Since Naplate-Ottawa, in La Salle County, is part of the Chicago coverage area, the Central Illinois National Weather Service Office conducted post storm damage surveys from Washburn to Rutland. Meteorologist Ed Shimon (ILX) was one of the meteorologists who did the damage surveys Wednesday morning, 03/01/17, in the Washburn/Rutland Areas. National Weather Service meteorologists rely on engineering research in order to determine the wind speeds that were needed to significantly damage houses/buildings/structures/trees, etc. Shimon described the damage, in the Washburn Area, as very extensive. He explained that the Washburn tornado was significant, especially for the month of February in Central Illinois. For a complete look at the National Weather Service damage survey results, click HERE.      

 


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