No time of year is free from tornadoes, but in Illinois they are most likely to occur during the months of April, May and June. Since 1950, all counties in Illinois have experienced tornadoes. Illinois has averaged 31 tornadoes per year since 1950, but in 1974 there were 107 sighted! 50% of all tornadoes occur between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., but they can strike at any time of the day or night. They are most likely to happen in the late afternoon on hot, spring days. Knowing the basics of tornado safety can help you survive.

Learn These Tornado Danger Signs:
(SOURCE: FEMA: Tornadoes - Before a Tornado: How to Plan)
An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible.
Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

The difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning:
A Tornado Watch simply means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop. Be alert for changing weather, and stay tuned to radio or television reports and account for family members. If you have any indication that a tornado may be approaching, take cover immediately. Do not wait for a Tornado Warning to be issued.

A Tornado Warning means that a tornado has actually been sighted. If a Tornado Warning has been issued for your area: Seek shelter immediately!


Where to take shelter after a Tornado Warning has been issued:
Single Family Homes: The safest place to be during a tornado is in a basement under something sturdy, like a workbench. If there is no basement, seek shelter in the middle of the building on the lowest level, in a small interior room like a closet or bathroom away from outside walls and windows.

In an Automobile: If you see a funnel cloud or hear a Tornado Warning issued for your area on the radio or by siren, do not try to outrun the tornado. The path and speed of a tornado is unpredictable. Get out of your vehicle and seek a safe structure, or lie down in a low area (a ditch or ravine) with your hands covering the back of your head and neck.
At Work or School: Be aware of emergency shelter plans in office buildings and schools you and your family frequent. If a specific shelter area does not exist, move into interior hallways or small rooms on the building's lowest level. Avoid areas with glass.
At a Store or Shopping Mall: If you cannot get into a basement or designated shelter, move to the center of the lowest level of the building, away from windows, and lie flat.

Develop an emergency communication plan:
(SOURCE: FEMA: Tornadoes - Before a Tornado: How to Plan)
In case family members are separated from one another during a tornado (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it is often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.

Have disaster supplies on hand:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Emergency food and water
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Essential medicines
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Sturdy shoes

Don't wait until an emergency siren sounds to start grabbing supplies and thinking about what you should do