Storms that hit central Illinois on Friday produced at least one tornado

Powerful storms that hit Illinois and five other states on Friday night knocked down power lines, trees and left other debris strewn across Springfield and central Illinois.

At least one tornado has been confirmed in Cass County by Lincoln’s National Weather Service.

Rain started to hit the area just before 8 p.m. with winds reaching 58 mph at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in Springfield, said meteorologist Alex Erwin of the National Weather Service in Lincoln.

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Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell reported that MPs responded to several calls from power lines and fallen trees, but no other major damage was reported as of 9:30 p.m.

At 8 a.m. on Saturday, 823 City Water, Light and Power customers were left without power. In the region, Ameren Illinois had 1,114 unserviced customers.

The tornado report was three miles northwest of Philadelphia in Cass County around 7:55 p.m., Erwin said.

Philadelphia is approximately 27 miles northwest of Springfield.

The NWS assigned a rating of EF2 to the tornado based on the damage it caused.

One house suffered damage while structural damage was done to other buildings around that house, he said.

“We expect to find (more damage when the crews are) out there today,” Erwin said.

Straight-line winds from the same storm complex also knocked down power lines in Chatham and Buffalo, Erwin said.

A house was damaged on Altig Bridge Road around Petersburg, said Menard County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Ben Hollis. A gas leak forced the family to evacuate the house, Hollis said.

The storm destroyed a garage not attached to the property, Hollis said. The garage trusses impaled the roof of the house, he added.

A cattle barn across the road suffered structural damage, Hollis said.

Two machine sheds east of Atterberry, one on Masters Road and one on Pin Hook Road, were completely leveled, Hollis added.

A number of customers in the northern part of Menard County, served by the Menard Electric Cooperative, were still without power at noon on Saturday.

Altig Bridge Road from Fairgrounds Road to Carter has been closed, as has Masters Road from Fairgrounds Road to Lincoln Trail Road.

A Facebook post called the area a “big field of debris.”

No injuries were immediately reported.

Springfield Fire Chief Brandon Blough said 15 members of the Springfield Fire Department Tactical Unit have been deployed to assist with rescue efforts at the storm-hit Edwardsville Amazon facility. The unit was then demobilized and returned to Springfield.

The New Berlin-Athens high school boys’ basketball game was postponed to the third quarter on Friday due to a power outage in the Athens high school gymnasium. The game will be picked up at 6 p.m. Thursday.

There was also a save in the Williamsville-Pleasant Plains game on Friday at Pleasant Plains. This game was over.

Erwin said it was not uncommon to have severe weather during the fall months, with the region experiencing a secondary peak in severe weather reports in October and November.

“December may be a bit late, but it can happen,” Erwin said.

A late-season tornado outbreak hit the state on December 1, 2018, with more than two dozen confirmed tornadoes. More than 500 homes were damaged in the Taylorville area where the maximum wind speed reached 120 mph.

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Erwin said Friday’s storms were the result of a strong low that followed northwest central Illinois. This brought humidity from the Gulf to the region and provided support for strong thunderstorms, he said.

The only remaining concern for Saturday, Erwin added, was wind gusts hovering around 50 mph. Winds should ease in the afternoon.

Erwin said no impactful weather was on the horizon for next week and near-record temperatures were expected for Wednesday.

This story will be updated.

Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, [email protected], twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.

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