Peoria, Ill. (WMBD) – After our spring and summer severe weather season winds down, it’s easy to become complacent in late summer as the risk of severe weather decreases in Central Illinois. It’s not unusual for our storm readiness to take a backseat as we head into the holiday season.
It’s important to remember that it is not unusual to see an uptick in severe weather in Illinois during the months of November and December as the jet stream begins to drop south. Statistics show that Illinois sees a bump in tornado reports in the months of November and December, what I commonly refer to as Illinois’ second severe weather season.
The chart below from the Illinois State Climatologist shows the monthly breakdown of Illinois tornadoes between 1950 and 2020. While the bulk of our tornadoes come in April, May & June, Illinois sees more tornadic activity in November and December than in September and October combined.
The following chart from the Illinois State Climatologist shows the number of tornado-related fatalities by month for Illinois. While April and August have historically been the deadliest months for tornadoes, the bulk of those fatalities have come from single events. 58 of the 97 deaths in April were the result of the 1967 Oak Lawn tornado outbreak while 29 of the 35 deaths in August were due to the August 28th, 1990, Plainfield F-5 tornado. While it doesn’t stand out as much, December happens to be the 4th deadliest month for tornado-related fatalities.
Central Illinois is no stranger to cold season tornadoes
In the last 10 years, Central Illinois has had two memorable cold season severe weather events, the November 17th, 2013 EF-4 Washington Tornado event and the December 1st, 2018 tornado outbreak which was the largest single day December outbreak on record with 29 confirmed tornadoes. The area was nearly part of a third on December 10th, 2021 when strong tornadoes tracked across southern Illinois. The recent activity over the past decade serves as a reminder that tornadoes can and do touchdown any time of year, at any time of day, as long as conditions are right.
The month of November is going to be off to warm start. The Climate Prediction Center’s 6-10 Day Outlook calls for above average temperatures and above average precipitation through November 7th.
In addition to the warmer weather, the upper-level weather pattern could certainly bring opportunity for increased storminess across the Midwest. With a large scale trough in place over the west, the prevailing storm track could place Illinois within a favorable area for severe storms if they happen to time out just right. The first such instance could come with a strong cold front set to move into Illinois on Friday, November 4th, though details of any potential severe weather threat is unclear.
For now, go into the month of November reviewing your severe weather preparedness plans and making sure you have everything in place in the event severe weather season makes a comeback in the next few months. For more severe weather preparedness tips, visit the Storm Training 101 portion of our website.