Up to 15 tornadoes were reported across Illinois on Saturday afternoon in a rare display for the month of December.
No fatalities have been reported but more than a dozen people were injured in Taylorville, according to news reports.
The Taylorville Daily Breeze-Courier reported crews were doing search and rescue operations late Saturday night. Earlier, the Taylorville Fire Department had received multiple calls about people trapped in their homes due to storm damage. Taylorville is in Christian County about 27 miles southeast of Springfield.
The storm damaged over 100 homes in town, according to an estimate by Taylorville Assistant Fire Chief Andy Goodall.
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“Most of those houses, roofs are gone, significant damage, including my own. That’s one of the things we gotta manage, and that’s what this team is doing. We’re going to get this all put together and try to get everybody back whole as soon as we can,” Goodall told the newspaper.
KMOV-Channel 4 reported that Country Classic Cars in Staunton was damaged during a storm. Last year, the dealership located along Interstate 55 was heavily damaged in a fire.
Terri Baker of Bath shot a video of a tornado near her town. It appeared to be following the Illinois River, she said on her Facebook post. Bath is located in Mason County and is about 50 miles northwest of Springfield.
A tornado near Litchfield was captured on video by Jenny Rogers Fergurson.
WGEM in Quincy reported a tornado in Pike County destroyed a home and damaged two others. Pike County is located along the Mississippi River south of Quincy.
A Fox32 report included a video of a tornado in Havana, Illinois.
The National Weather Service in St. Louis said three tornadoes were confirmed in Pike, Macoupin and Montgomery counties. The agency told the Chicago Tribune that 12 tornadoes were reported in the Central Illinois counties of Christian, Cass, Fulton, McDonough and Schuyler.
High temperatures Saturday afternoon and moisture drawn up from the Gulf of Mexico by a storm system in the Great Plains contributed to the formation of tornadoes, according to Thomas Spriggs, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis.
Spriggs said the unseasonably warm temperatures in the southern half of Illinois on Saturday ranged from 65 to 70, which is about 20 degrees higher than normal.
“We had some really good moisture being pulled up from the Gulf of Mexico, courtesy of a really deep, wound up storm system that was over eastern Kansas and western Missouri,” Spriggs said.
Spriggs said the National Weather Service will send out survey teams early Sunday to gauge the amount of damage and determine how severe the tornadoes were based on a scale of F0 to F5.
Gov. Bruce Rauner activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield on Saturday evening following reports of tornado touchdowns in Illinois, according to a news release.
“We activated the State Emergency Operations Center so that we could closely monitor the situation, keep in contact with local officials and quickly mobilize any state assets that may be needed,” Rauner said in a statement.
The Illinois State Climatologist Office’s website reports that Illinois historically has the second fewest tornadoes in the month of December. The fewest occur in the month of January and most occur in April, May and June.