VALORIE EVERSOLE - Daily Union Reporter
SHELBYVILLE, IL. — One confirmed tornado and unconfirmed reports of others accompanied a strong storm line that swept through Shelby County Thursday afternoon.
The tornado was spotted south of Pana and tracked into Shelby County west and north of Tower Hill. One destroyed home left a woman injured. Other homes were damaged and several outbuildings were destroyed.
"It was definitely a tornado that moved through the area," said Chris Miller of the National Weather Service in Lincoln. A survey team from the NWS gathered in Pana and western Shelby County to assess the damage and intensity of the twister.
"The storm (tornado) lasted from about 4:20 to 4:25 p.m. It was one storm in a line of storms that produced the tornado,"
Other tornadoes were sighted, but not confirmed, in the Findlay and Stewardson and Strasburg areas. No damage was reported for those areas.
Although there was no tornado in Shelbyville, straight line winds damaged roofs and downed tree branches.
"(Shelby County EMA director) Jared Rowcliffe reported seeing rotation but no funnel clouds. He estimated winds at 75 miles per hour in Shelbyville," Miller said.
Those straight line winds caused damage at the Shelbyville High School and Moulton campus. The roof was blown off the press box causing damage to the bleachers and littering the field and track. The band trailer was blown into the concession stand and a window was blown out of the High School building.
Elsewhere, the sign at the Johnstowne Mall was blown out and the Pizza Hut suffered roof damage.
The heavy rains coupled with melting snow and a frozen ground created flooding problems in fields and across roadways. Although most of the water had receded by Friday, other low-lying areas retained water.
"The water had no place to go," Miller said.
Power outages were also reported throughout the area due to the storm.
Severe weather can happen anytime of the year and awareness of conditions is a must for those living in the Midwest.
"Whenever you get warm temperatures, like we did Thursday in the 50s and 60s, ahead of a strong cold front, it can produce these severe storms," Miller said.
The National Weather Service predicts that the first half of March will still have winter weather, but with the weather patterns the area has been having, April may be a concern.
"It could be a very active spring storm season, but we're still checking things out," Miller said.