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Nine Tornadoes Confirmed; Coal City Upped To EF-3

National Weather Service
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Four 6/22/15 tornadoes confirmed

Nine tornadoes altogether touched down Monday night in northern Illinois, and one was stronger than officials originally determined.

The National Weather Service continues to investigate and evaluate damage and other information about the June 22 severe weather outbreak.

The tornado that caused considerable damage to Coal City, which is south of Chicago on the Grundy-Will county line, has been upgraded from an EF-2 to an EF-3. It was determined that top winds were around 160 miles per hour.

The tornado traveled more than 16 miles and was three-quarters of a mile wide at its peak.

An EF-2 tornado with winds up to 135 miles per hour was on the ground for less than a mile near Godley and Braidwood, in Grundy and Will counties.

The tornado that destroyed portions of the Woodhaven Lakes trailer resort south of Sublette was classified as an EF-2. A weaker tornado was confirmed near Mendota.

The Coal City tornado ripped a path not far from the route a tornado took in November 2013 through nearby Diamond.  Coal City Fire District Public Information Officer Nick Doerfler says this tornado hit a more-populated area than the one in 2013.

Officials kept non-residents out of the area but allowed residents to return home once properties had been searched and given the all clear.

Gov. Bruce Rauner issued a disaster declaration for Lee and Grundy counties Monday following a as a result of the tornadoes that ripped through northern Illinois on Monday.

"It's a miracle, frankly, when you see the devastation that there were no deaths and no life-threatening injuries," Rauner said after viewing the damage in Coal City by helicopter.

There might be more trouble on tap:

The National Weather Service says the region could experience more severe storms tonight. The area hit hardest by Monday's storms is once again classified as being under "an enhanced risk" of severe thunderstorms under the service's new risk-assessment forecast.

That means wind damage, large hail, and a few tornadoes are possible. This was the same level of risk predicted before Monday's destructive storms.

Credit National Weather Service
The National Weather Service's new categories for predicting the risk of severe thunderstorms.

A post on the "Coal City Area Tornado - Official" Facebook page includes a tentative call for volunteers to gather at 9 a.m. Friday at the Diamond Banquet Hall to get equipment and assignments.

Several restrictions have been placed on potential visitors to the community, according to a post that cites Coal City Police Sgt. Tom Logan. They include:

  • Residents will need to present a photo ID to enter the damaged portions of the city and must accompany any guests from outside the area seeking to enter.
  • A contractor curfew is in place beginning at 8 p.m. and continuing to 6 a.m. the following morning.
  • Families who are still in need of meals or shelter should go to the Methodist church on McArdle Street.

That post also suggests that cash donations should be made through the Grundy County Community Foundation website.

Another post informs family members of residents, “If you want to go help relatives in Coal City, the tornado relative must meet you at a checkpoint with ID in hand. Then you can accompany them to their home.”

The Woodhaven Lakes Facebook page states that additional work must be completed before the private resort can be reopened. The page also says a fire ban is in place and electrical service will not be restored to campsites unless approved by Amboy and Sublette fire departments.

The post, from late Tuesday evening, also says, “We do not have a complete picture of the entire clean-up process as we move forward. There are simply too many variables, and we are too early in the evaluation stages to give accurate information.”

Following a news conference Tuesday afternoon, officials announced that potential volunteers should check the Facebook page for information on opportunities to help.

Financial contributions for storm relief can be made through Farmers State Bank in Sublette. Checks may be made out to United Way of Lee County – Emergency & Relief Fund of Lee County. Donations may also be made online via paypal at www.unitedwayofleecounty.org.

The Ellice Dinges Center in Sublette shelter is offering services to storm victims, according to ReadyIllinois.

These storms were part of a second wave of severe weather to move through the region Monday. 

  • WNIJ's Patrick Sheehan and WKCC's Heather Claborn contributed to this report.
Susan is an award-winning reporter/writer at her favorite radio station. She's also WNIJ's Perspectives editor, Under Rocks contributor, and local host of All Things Considered.
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