Multiple tornadoes were reported on Saturday night across central IL, injuring at least 30 people in the small town of Taylorville, which has a population of just 11,200 residents. According to data from the Tornado History Project, the last time tornadoes were reported in IL in December was in 2015 when six tornados broke out.
The National Weather Service reportedly deployed teams on Sunday to assess the damage and measure the strength of the twisters. No injuries or fatalities were reported.
Assistant Fire Chief Andy Goodall spoke to reporters Saturday night shortly after the storms pounded the city of 11,000, saying at least 100 homes had major damage, including his own.
"This is the biggest December outbreak in IL since 1957", he said.
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Severe thunderstorms also raked IL and Missouri on Saturday. That advanced warning gave people critical time to take cover and may have saved lives. About 10 minutes later, a second weaker tornado was confirmed less than 10 miles (16 kilometres) away near the town of Rudy, Arkansas.
"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. Its path was intermittent and mostly caused damage to trees and to some structures.
Hardest hit was the town of Taylorville, about 30 miles southeast of the capital of Springfield.
A Taylorville Memorial Hospital spokesman said 21 people, from ages 9 to 97, arrived for treatment on Saturday. May is the peak month, with an average of 15 tornadoes. Most were released within hours. One death was reported in southwest Missouri early Saturday after thunderstorms there.