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Vergennes tornado damage

Debbie Sullivan (center) searches for family items on March 1, 2017, with family at the site of her home in Vergennes. Sullivan was home with family and her dog on Feb. 28, 2017, when the tornado struck, destroying her home.

PADUCAH — National Weather Service in Paducah is rating a tornado that traveled from Southeast Missouri into Southern Illinois on Feb. 28 an EF-4 in a preliminary report released over the weekend.

The tornado had estimated peak wind speed of 180 miles per hour and a path 50.4 miles long. The tornado killed one person in Perry County, Missouri, and injured 12.

The tornado set down at 7:55 p.m. 4.8 miles west-northwest of Perryville. It lifted at 8:57 p.m. 1.8 miles southwest of Christopher.

The National Weather Service described the path of tornado and its damage as follows in its report:

“The tornado quickly became violent reaching EF-4 intensity and leveling five homes, as well as other structures, just west of Interstate 55, about 3.5 miles northwest of Perryville, Missouri. Numerous uninhabited cars from a salvage yard were blown into or over I-55. The lone fatality occurred when an I-55 southbound vehicle was intercepted by the tornado. As the tornado tore east, it caused the area of greatest home and property destruction 3 miles north of Perryville, in the vicinity of U.S. 61 and Moore Drive.

“Three homes were leveled on the west side of U.S. 61 with dozens of other homes and structures destroyed. Several of the injuries occurred in this area. In addition to the leveled homes in Perry County (Missouri), at least 100 other homes received moderate to major damage. As the tornado continued east across Perry County (Missouri), it leveled or nearly leveled two additional homes and destroyed numerous other homes and structures.

“The tornado reached its greatest width as it approached the Mississippi River where a damage swath 0.6 miles wide was measured. The tornado damage path also exhibited multiple vortex characteristics at this point, yielding three distinct convergent areas within the parent vortex. This was also indicated via ground striations, or disturbance marks to bare ground, just west of the Mississippi River.

“The tornado then ripped across the southern tip of Randolph County, Illinois, just south of Rockwood. It then continued its east-northeast path across Jackson County, passing just south of Ava and immediately south of Vergennes. Many thousands of large trees were snapped and uprooted, and dozens of homes and other structures were damaged or destroyed across Jackson and Franklin Counties.

“The tornado remained very intense and wide (at least 1/3 mile) nearly leveling a home as it passed between Elkville and Dowell, and into Franklin County with unabating (sic) intensity. A house was leveled 1.75 miles south of Mulkeytown. Very soon thereafter the tornado began to rapidly weaken, before dissipating 1.8 miles southwest of Christopher.

“The tornado lasted an astounding 1 hour and 2 minutes and was the longest track tornado in the coverage area of NWS Paducah since another EF-4 tornado back on April 22, 1981.”

Southern Illinois also was hit by three other tornadoes Feb. 28 and March 1.

An EF-0 tornado with peak wind speeds of 75 miles per hour traveled 4.1 miles from 8.4 miles west-southwest of Carbondale at 10:25 p.m. to 4.5 miles west of Carbondale at 10:30 p.m., producing mainly tree damage.

An EF-1 tornado with peak wind speeds of 95 miles per hour traveled 7.5 miles through Williamson County, setting down at 10:41 p.m. 2.2 miles southeast of Carterville and lifting at 10:54 p.m. approximately 3.5 miles north of Marion.

A fourth tornado, rated an EF-3 with peak wind speeds of 152 miles per hour, traveled along a path 44.6 miles long. The tornado set down at 9:54 p.m. 4.2 miles northeast of Carmi and lifted at 10:45 p.m. 1.3 miles south-southeast of Oakland City, Indiana.

In White County, the tornado damaged or destroyed 35 homes, mobile homes and farm buildings. It was a quarter mile wide by the time it reached the Wabash River. One home that was severely damaged in this tornado was also damaged by the 1925 Tri-State Tornado.

Two other tornadoes, rated EF-1 and EF-2, did damage in Kentucky.

National Weather Service says information may change in its final report.


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