March 6, 2017

NWS: tornado was an EF-4, ARC: 41 homes destroyed

PADUCAH, Kentucky The National Weather Service has released its preliminary report on the February 28th tornado that cut a swath across Perry County and then into southern Illinois.

The American Red Cross reports that 162 houses sustained some damage in the tornado. Forty-one were destroyed in Perry County and three in Randolph County, Illinois.

An additional 24 homes were left uninhabitable because of damage, a release from the Red Cross said.

The organization said at least 10,875 meals and snacks, and 6,299 cleanup kits have been delivered to help in the efforts.

The NWS says the tornado was an EF-4 with an estimated peak wind of 180 miles an hour. It was on the ground for 50.4 miles with a maximum width of 0.6 miles. The tornado resulted in one death and 12 injuries.

The NWS says the tornado began about 7:55 p.m. Tuesday, February 28th about 4.8 miles west northwest of Perryville and ended at 8:57 p.m. Thursday, February 28th 1.8 miles southwest of Christopher, Illinois.

The NWS says the tornado quickly became violent reaching EF-4 intensity and leveled five homes, as well as other structures, just west of I-55, about 3.5 miles northwest of Perryville in the Kyle Lane and County Road 806 area.

Numerous unoccupied cars from a salvage yard were blown into or over I-55.

The lone fatality occurred when a southbound vehicle on I-55 was intercepted by the tornado.

As the tornado tore east, it caused the area of greatest home and property destruction three miles north of Perryville, in the vicinity of Highway 61 and Moore Drive.

Three homes were leveled on the west side of U.S. Highway 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, at least 100 other homes received moderate to major damage.

As the tornado continued east across Perry County, 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 Illinois passing just south of Ava, Illinois and immediately south of Vergennes, Illinois. 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, Illinois and into Franklin County with unabating 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 one hour and two minutes and was the longest track tornado in the coverage area of NWS Paducah since another EF-4 tornado back on April 22, 1981.

The tornado rating scale:

EF0...Weak......65 to 85 mph

EF1...Weak......86 to 110 mph

EF2...Strong....111 to 135 mph

EF3...Strong....136 to 165 mph

EF4...Violent...166 To 200 mph

EF5...Violent...>200 mph

The NWS says the information in its report is preliminary and subject to change pending final review of the event and publication in NWS Storm Data.