Tornado half a mile wide: Rochelle-Fairdale 2015

So, yesterday was 150th anniversary of the Appomattox Court House surrender. It’s also the date of the Ashton-Rochelle-Fairdale tornado—about 7 p.m. The sirens went off about 6:10 and dog, cat, and I went to basement. I called M at her office—she came home about 6:30 or so. About 6:50, TV upstairs (Candice King, Channel 17) was talking about a tornado spotted at Ashton, where it damaged Crest Foods building (the one along Rt. 38, I’m guessing), then destroyed houses at Skare Park (went just south of Mom’s) and also the house at SE corner of Queens and Bethel, according to T.G. on Facebook. M said E.D. reported that her house is gone, one dog dead, another needing to be put down. Then tornado severely damaged (not actually “leveled,” as Whitney Martin on Chan. 23 said) Grubsteakers at 251 & 64, NE corner. Weird to see national media—Weather Channel—talk about “Grubsteakers.” And I’m wondering about Maplehurst facility near there. Tornado half a mile wide, a “wedge tornado,” wider than tall—more common in Great Plains (Tornado Alley) than here.

Then, media reports say, tornado took out Fairdale (killed a woman [actually, two women], damaged every building in town) …

Sheriff Brian Van Vickle made a brief press statement. TV people were saying tornado was E.F. 2 or 3, but that National Weather Service damage estimators would be looking at it. Someone also said winds of 91 mph, I seem to recall.

And so, BVV also said there’s a check-stop at Flagg and Skare as of 5 a.m. and people need to get credentials at RTHS west lot, where Red Cross is set up. This was on Facebook this morning. I also shared an Ogle Sheriff notice from last night that said to “stay out of these areas!!!!” (Always good advice—a joke I’ll make later, you know, when there’s “plus time” added to this tragedy).

My student J.P., her name was attached to a video of tornado shown on local news—I think it was there. It was also online at, maybe WIFR page? Facebook damage pics were better than those at WIFR or WTVO websites. M said she was so tired but she was on her phone about this from 6:30 til after 10.

[From journal of Fri. 10 April 2015, Journal 207, page 99-100]

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