Champaign County Tornadoes

1948 Tornado Funnel

Tornadoes skipped across rural areas of north Champaign and Vermilion counties on April 7, 1948. Two women were injured, and seven farm homes were significantly damaged as the storms traveled from Leverett to Flatville to Penfield. 

Tornadoes are a fact of life in the Midwest, and Illinois ranks high in tornado numbers and tornado impacts averaging 64 tornadoes a year. Central Illinois lies in a region noted for "long-track tornadoes." These tornadoes can be up to a half-mile in diameter and on the ground for 50 to 200 or more miles. This region stretches from southwest Missouri, through central Illinois, and northwest Ohio.

Path of the 1925 Tri-State Tornado

Path of 1925 Tri-State Tornado. Courtesy of Stanley A. Changnon's report "Two Record Long Tornadoes in Illinois and Their Major Impacts" published in Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science (2009), Volume 102, nos. 3&4, pp. 175-180. 

An excellent example of a long-track tornado is the Tri-State tornado of 1925. The deadliest tornado in United States history, it traveled through southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois, and southwestern Indiana on March 18, 1925. Its 300 miles per hour winds destroyed farms and towns in its path, injuring over 2,000 individuals and killing 695. The tornado covered 219 miles in 3.5 hours and caused $130 million in property damage.

Within Champaign County, Ogden and Sadorus are the two villages most often plagued by these storms. Between 1950 to 1980, Sadorus had seven tornado touchdowns in a 2-square mile area, making it the most frequented area in the state. Seventy-nine tornados have been reported in Champaign County between January 1, 1950, and December 31, 2019. Here are a sampling of images and descriptions of tornados from Champaign County and surrounding counties from our resources in the Archives.

Champaign County Tornadoes