The National Weather Service received reports of 22 tornadoes, all in central IL on Saturday, while offices in Lincoln, Ill., and St. Louis, began to conduct storm surveys on Sunday to confirm their track and intensity.
A wind gust of 75 miles per hour was recorded at 5:30 p.m.in Springfield, breaking the last windspeed record for December set in 1972, the weather service said.
Survey teams say an EF1 tornado damaged businesses in the Republic, Mo. area around 1 a.m. Friday.
Illinois' previous December tornado record was 21 storms during an outbreak on Dec. 18-19, 1957.
There were several reports of injuries due to the storms, but most were minor.
Hardest hit was the town of Taylorville, about 30 miles southeast of the capital of Springfield.
The tornado was on the ground for around 10 miles (16 kilometres) before it thundered through Taylorville, and the weather service was able to warn residents of its arrival 41 minutes before it actually struck, Chris Miller, a meteorologist at the service's Lincoln office, said Sunday. That year, 25 tornados tore through Southern Illinois and parts of Missouri, killing 17 people and injuring 273 more. He said it was an odd time of year for tornadoes in IL, and added that it was in part due to the "unseasonably warm and humid weather".
Miller said preliminary estimates are that the Taylorville tornado may have been an EF2, which indicates wind speeds as high as 135 miles per hour.
The weather service said Sunday that a strong tornado that developed from severe thunderstorms Friday night touched down in Van Buren, Arkansas. One death was reported in southwest Missouri early Saturday after thunderstorms there. The owner says that about 200 cars were damaged in both of the garages and shed. Its path was intermittent and mostly caused damage to trees and to some structures.
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