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2039 Springfield, Illinois tornado
EF4 tornado
Springfield tornado 2039

The large wedge tornado at peak strength
Date July 3
Times 1740-1757
Highest winds 200 mph
Touchdown location Chatham, Illinois
Areas affected Chatham, Toronto, Southern View and Springfield
Total damages $231 million
Total fatalities 12
Part of the
2039 tornado season

The 2039 Springfield tornado was a highly destructive EF4 wedge tornado, which carved a track of devastation through the city, causing 12 fatalities and a further 29 injuries during its time on the ground, carving a track several miles long in 17 minutes.


Meteorological Synopsis

A trough of low pressure formed over neighbouring Missouri, and it began to interact with a warm front as the day progressed, until the SPC issued a severe thunderstorm watch early on July 3 which was upgraded to a warning, with a tornado watch also posted by 1300.

Further down the line, the local NWS office issued a PDS tornado warning about 1637, with a remarkable 63 minutes lead time, once a hook echo became evident on radar imagery over the state.

The tornado touched down at 1740 in Chatham, causing EF0 damage to the local area, before accelerating out of the area as an EF1 3 minutes later, rapidly intensifying into an EF4 as it approached Toronto, where a tornado emergency was declared by the NWS in that area at 1742, 4 minutes before the arrival of the storm, which passed through the western area of the city, leaving the area a minute later, and weakening to EF3 strength, where it hit Southern view 3 minutes later, prompting another tornado emergency to be declared for the area.

After leaving the area, the Springfield tornado again reached EF4 strength, this time as it approached the city of Springfield, causing the 3rd tornado emergency of the storm to be declared, where the twister arrived 2 minutes later, causing poorly anchored buildings to be swept away by the ferocious winds, before rapidly weakening as it left the area at 1753, dissipating completely by 1757 due to dry air infiltrating the circulation.

Impact and response

Tornado damage high end ef4

High end EF4 damage left by the tornado near Springfield, Illinois


Due to the tornado, $231 million in damages was inflicted on the areas that were hit by the storm, with 12 deaths and 29 injuries inflicted.

In the days following the storm 12 bodies were found in the wreckage of buildings ravaged by the tornado, with the damage toll being totaled at $231 million following the event. Immediately following the disaster, the US president signed off a request by the governor of Illinois, and declared a state of emergency for the areas effected by the storm, with $10 million being given out in disaster funding's following he events in the areas ravaged by the twister. 12 people used a storm shelter provided by FEMA in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Disputing

Possible ef5 damage 1


Following aerial surveys done by the NWS, an area of possible EF5 damage was noted, but an upgrade to EF5 intensity was never made, despite the evidence suggesting EF5 damage occurred, and as a result, the tornados rating is a source of constant dispute by different NWS offices.

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