How to Avoid Tornadoes in Illinois

March 9, 2023

tornadoes in Illinois

Tornadoes can be a scary part of the weather, but they are also one of nature's most awesome forces. Illinois is known for tornadoes, particularly downstate and in some of the far suburbs.

They can occur anytime, but most frequently between March and June. They also tend to be more active in the evenings, with 50% of them occurring between 3 and 7 p.m.

Weather Conditions

Tornadoes form when thunderstorms develop in warm, moist air in advance of an eastward moving cold front. These thunderstorms can produce hail, strong winds, and tornadoes.

There are specific times of the day and months of the year that are most likely to produce a tornado. During these periods, thunderstorms will be most intense and the atmosphere will have the strongest heating effect on them.

In Illinois, the majority of tornadoes occur between March and May, although they can happen at any time. During this time, tornadoes are most common in the afternoon and evening hours, with 50% of tornadoes occurring between 3 and 7 p.m.

However, even when tornadoes are not at their peak, there can still be a high risk of damage and injury in Illinois. In fact, the most severe tornadoes to hit Illinois have been in off-peak times. This was the case in 1990 when a massive F5 tornado ravaged parts of Plainfield.

Signs of a Tornado

If you notice unusual weather conditions, it's always a good idea to take shelter. It may be time for a tornado watch or warning!

Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air that extend from a thunderstorm and travel over land. They can be as large as 1.6 km (1 mile) across and cause tremendous damage!

They also typically leave a trail of debris. Some of the most intense tornadoes can destroy buildings and even cars!

The first sign that a tornado is on its way is a cloud that looks like it's slowly moving toward the earth. This could be a funnel cloud, or it might be part of another thunderstorm.

Other signs of a tornado include falling trees, debris, or a dark sky that has a greenish tint to it. These are usually accompanied by lightning, thunder, and hail stones.

Identifying a Tornado

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground. They are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of 250 mph or more.

Tornadoes are most common in the central United States during spring and summer months when thunderstorms develop in warm, moist air ahead of an eastward-moving cold front. However, they can occur any time of year.

There are many signs that a storm is about to produce a tornado. They include an unusually dark sky that may border on being green, a wall cloud and large hail.

Identify a safe shelter location and prepare an Emergency Readiness Kit for your family. Make sure everyone has a NOAA Weather Radio with a battery back-up, so that you can monitor forecasts during severe weather.

In Illinois, tornadoes are most frequent between April and June, with a peak in December and February. They are also more likely to occur in watches for severe thunderstorms than in warnings.

What to Do After a Tornado

If a tornado warning is issued, go to your pre-designated storm shelter immediately. If there is no storm shelter available, find a low area to lie down in and cover your head with a blanket or sheet, if you have one.

If you are indoors, go to an interior room without windows on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid buildings that have wide-span roof areas, such as school gymnasiums, shopping malls or arenas, because they often collapse when hit by a tornado.

Be aware of gas leaks, which can be deadly. If you smell gas, evacuate the building immediately and call your gas company.

Tornadoes can change direction quickly and lift up cars or mobile homes and toss them hundreds of feet away. Therefore, never try to outrun a tornado in your car or mobile home.


Tornado Dave is the best place to learn more about severe weather and climate science. He's a veritable tornado of information, and he loves nothing more than educating others about the importance of being prepared for extreme weather events. Make sure to check in with Tornado Dave often, as he's always updating his blog with the latest news and information!
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