Tornado that ripped through Missouri, Illinois recorded at EF-4, NWS says


Seven-year-old Mayson Robinson, of Willisville, traverses the wreckage of his aunt Kassi Coulson’s barn Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Ava. Tuesday night a tornado damaged the roof of Coulson’s home, from which daylight can now be seen from inside the house, destroyed the family’s barn, knocked down trees and damaged vehicles. “You just don’t think it’s going to hit you like that,” Coulson said. “All in like a blink of an eye just the wind was in here, my five-year-old’s crying and screaming. … When I was shutting that door I could literally feel the air in here. I thought that window was open, I didn’t realize it was the roof.” (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

By Daily Egyptian staff

The National Weather Service on Saturday said the tornado that ripped through parts of Missouri and Illinois was an EF-4.

The Tuesday night tornado that started in Perryville, Missouri, and ended in Christopher, Illinois, reached a peak strength of 180 mph, traveling more than 50 miles, the service said. The tornado lasted “an astounding” hour and two minutes, which was the longest tracked tornado in the service’s Paducah coverage area since an EF-4 tornado on April 22, 1981.

On its way to Illinois, the tornado destroyed dozens of homes and structures. At least 100 homes in Perry County suffered major damage, according to the service’s report.


The tornado reached its greatest width as it approached the Mississippi River, where the weather service measured a width of 0.6 miles. It continued its path, ripping through the southern tip of Randolph County in Illinois.

In Jackson and Franklin counties, dozens of homes and other structures were damaged or destroyed and thousands of large trees were snapped and uprooted, the National Weather Service said. It passed just south of Ava and immediately south of Vergennes.

With “unabating intensity,” the tornado nearly leveled a home as it passed between Elkville and Dowell. After a home was leveled 1.75 miles south of Mulkeytown, it began to weaken and dissipated 1.8 miles southwest of Christopher.

On Wednesday afternoon, dozens of people could be seen cleaning debris and cutting fallen trees in Elkville. Near the intersection of Lacy Road and US-51, Janet Bush watched as community members helped clean up what was left of the home she lived in for 12 years.

“I thank God for all the help,” said Bush, 63, who lived in the home with her grandson, son and his girlfriend. “Thank God we still have our lives because I know it took other people’s lives.”

(Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms)
India Marsh surveys the destruction of her Elkville home Wednesday, March 1, 2017, after a tornado ripped through the town and several surrounding southern Illinois communities Tuesday night. Marsh said she has lived in the house her whole life.

The storm reportedly contributed to the death of three people in Illinois and Missouri.

A person was killed by an uprooted tree in Ottawa, authorities there said. And in Crossville, nearly two hours northeast of Carbondale, a 71-year-old man was killed when a twister struck a small building near a home, authorities said.


In Missouri, another person was killed when an apparent tornado moved through the Perry County area.

Local hospitals reported that four Jackson County residents were treated for minor injuries they sustained from flying debris in the tornado, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday in a preliminary assessment.

Of the 46 residences that were damaged in the tornado, 12 are considered a total loss, according to the assessment by the sheriff’s office and the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency.

The National Weather Service reported four tornados that day, two of which passed throughout portions of Jackson County. A weak tornado that went through the region was reported as an EF-0, and traveled more than four miles at 75 mph.

As for India Marsh, who has lived in Elkville all her life, rebuilding her destroyed home isn’t an option. Her family does not have insurance, and they stayed at the Super 8 in Du Quoin the night after the tornado.

“We really don’t know where we are going to go,” Marsh said with tears in her eyes. “This all happened so fast.”

Staff writers Luke Nozicka and Olivia Spiers contributed reporting. 

The Daily Egyptian’s news desk can be reached at 618-536-3327 or [email protected]

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