20 Year Anniversary of Largest Tornado Outbreak in Illinois


On April, 19th 1996, 39 confirmed tornadoes touched down in Illinois. This was the largest outbreak in state history! There were 74 injuries and one fatality, along with 100 millions dollars in property damage due to these destructive tornadoes.

One supercell thunderstorm alone, produced 10 tornadoes as it moved across central Illinois. This supercell produced an F2 tornado near Jacksonville, F3 in Decatur, Savoy-Urbana and Ogden. 

Listed below are a few of the strongest tornadoes of that night. For a complete list of tornadoes and intensity click here. 


Time: 6:18 PM to 6:28 PM 

Length: 6 Miles

Rating: F2

Touched down at the Mobil Chemical Plant 2 miles east of Jacksonville, and crossed part of the Jacksonville Correctional Facility. It lifted for 2 miles before touching down again and traveling 2 more miles before lifting 1 mile north of Orleans. Two railroad cars were overturned at the plant, and two guard towers, a greenhouse and a fence were damaged at the prison. One home east of the prison was destroyed, and 3 others had major damage. There was 1 minor injury at the prison.


Time: 7:22 PM to 7:45 PM

Length: 14.5 miles

Rating: F3

Touched down 2 miles south-southwest of Niantic and traveled east-northeast. Moved into Old Harristown at 7:27 pm, destroying 5 homes and damaging the remainder of the homes and the old grade school gymnasium.It moved into the west side of Decatur near the intersection of Wyckles and Center Roads after crossing I-72, destroying a church. It demolished a house near Ravina Park Road, and caused damage in a 1.5 to 2 block wide area. It crossed Oakland Ave. and destroyed the Sims Lumber Company. After lifting briefly, it touched down again at Bloomington Rd. and Pythan Ave., then lifted again just east of Morgan St. It touched down once more near 27th and Pershing, damaging several roofs at a manufacturing plant. Total damage in the area was $9 million.


Time: 8:34 PM to 8:47 PM 

Length: 4 miles

Rating: F3

Briefly touched down 1 mile north of Savoy, near US-45 and Curtis Rd., destroying 3 homes under construction. It lifted before touching down again 1 mile south of Urbana. It destroyed 30 homes, and caused moderate damage to 29 others. Five businesses were also damaged. Damage was estimated between $7 million and $11 million.


Time: 8:55 PM to 8:58 PM 

Length: 2 miles

Rating: F3

Passed northeast directly through the middle of Ogden, destroying 68 homes, 12 businesses, 3 churches, the library, and the grade school. East of town, it killed a woman in a semi as the tornado crossed I-74. It appeared there were multiple circulations within the parent tornado.

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