DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - Four tornadoes touched down in central Illinois Monday.
Once again, Decatur dodged a bullet as none were sighted. That alone fueled a local myth that the Soy Bean Capital has a "bubble" of protection.
It is believed what is seen generated from the ADM plant and Tate & Lyle creates a bubble around Decatur. When severe weather occurs, like a tornado, it goes around the city. WAND News wanted to know if Decatur's air quality affected experiencing severe weather.
To answer the question, WAND News checked the air quality index, then reached out to the National Weather Service and the station's Chief Meteorologist Jim Kosek.
First off, research shows air pollution could be the catalyst to breeding hail storms and tornadoes. If that is the case, Decatur should experience a plethora of severe weather.
"There's nothing unique about the Decatur area or Macon County in particular that would make it more or less likely to experience severe weather than any other area here in central Illinois," said Ben Deubeleiss. He's the lead meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln.
The NWS keeps a record of reported tornadoes in Macon County. A total of 67 tornadoes were reported between 1950 and 2019. Eighteen tornadoes touched down in Decatur. The latest was an EF-0 on Aug. 21, 2019. The air quality that day was in good standing.
"Any discussion about a bubble across Decatur is absolutely absurd," said Kosek, who believes it is only a matter of time before Decatur experiences a tornado.
Kosek said experts know how pollution affects the weather, the intensity of rainfall rates and flooding.
"So if it were some magical, super polluted low-cal in Central Illinois, then I would ask why don't we have flooding all the time," Kosek said.
WAND can confirm Decatur's air quality doesn't create a bubble during severe weather. It should be known the month of May is usually known for severe weather.