Chicago tornado: EF-1 carves 3-mile path from Lincolnwood to Rogers Park, heaviest damage along Jarvis

ByJessica D'Onofrio and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Chicago tornado leaves 3-mile path of destruction in Rogers Park
An EF-1 tornado with estimated peak winds of 110mph carved a 3-mile path through Rogers Park on Chicago's North Side.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Residents in Rogers Park are cleaning up for a second day after a rare tornado hit Chicago, touching down in suburban Lincolnwood and leaving a trail of damage on Chicago's North Side.

A total of eight tornadoes touched down across the greater Chicago area Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service confirmed. That includes seven tornadoes in northern Illinois and one in southern Wisconsin.

The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-1 tornado with estimated peak winds of 110 mph initially touched down south of the intersection of Crawford and Touhy Avenues in suburban Lincolnwood, before moving northeast over the West Ridge and Rogers Park neighborhoods.

The tornado then moved offshore over Lake Michigan and became a waterspout near the Jarvis and Fargo beaches, NWS said.

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The weather service classified the storm as a "high-end" EF-1 tornado after surveying the damage. The tornado was as wide as three football fields.

The most intense damage occurred approximately one mile from the lakefront, as well as near and within Phillip Rogers Park, NWS said.

WATCH: Rogers Park residents survey tornado damage

A tornado touched down in Chicago before moving over Lake Michigan and becoming a waterspout.

While rare, tornadoes can and do hit urban areas. The last F-1 tornado in Chicago was on May 29, 1983, on the city's Southwest Side, according to ABC7 Chicago Meteorologist Cheryl Scott. The storm started near South Pulaski and West 31st Street and traveled NE for 0.2 miles.

The EF-1 tornado in Chicago was the final twister spawned by the rare weather event known as a derecho, which is a strong thunderstorm complex of straight-line winds that is on or hitting parts of an area over hundreds of miles.

To meet the criteria of a derecho, the weather event must travel upwards of about 250 miles, however, the storm that descended on the Midwest Monday traveled more than 600 miles, Scott said.

The National Weather Service has confirmed three tornadoes touched down in the greater Chicago area Monday.

"It all happened in like 30 seconds. Honestly. The wind came through. All these trees were gone in 30 seconds," said Scott Garton, Rogers Park resident.

As residents emerged to begin cleaning up, Jarvis Avenue was nearly impossible to navigate. The street is a tangled mess of gigantic trees, with many uprooted and splintered.

Woman rescued by Good Samaritans after derecho topples tree on car

Wendy Istvanick hunkered down on her ground floor as the tornado passed overhead Monday.

"I grew up in Wisconsin, heard tornadoes come through - like a roof blown off here and there - but never saw anything quite like this," she said.

"You never think you're going to get a tornado in Chicago," said fellow resident Brent Caburnay.

Caburnay said it didn't take long for the storm to move through, but it left a lot of damage on Fargo Avenue.

"You could hear this uproar of wind and it came from, just, below and started moving everything up," he said.

Garton's 100-year-old maple tree was toppled by the storm. He said it felt like a twister, that cabinets blew open from the pressure.

Residents in the epicenter on Jarvis said they are still finding it hard to believe they experienced a tornado.

Victoria Lockhart said when the weather took a quick turn for the worse right at 4 p.m., she grabbed her family and sheltered in the bathroom.

"We tried to make it to the basement, but by the time we got close to the backroom door, the wind started coming in so we couldn't even make it there," she said.

WATCH: High winds down signs, trees, damage buildings

A line of strong storms with extremely strong winds led to widespread reports of damage in the Chicago area Monday afternoon.

Volunteers with My Block, My Hood, My City hit the streets to help clean up along Jarvis, bringing others from all over Chicago to help with them. Several city blocks were covered in debris.

"We're really just trying to clear out the sidewalks, things that we the city can't necessarily get to right away," volunteer Molly Frank said. "[ There is] a lot of elderly people in the neighborhood, so doing what we can."

"I love their mission and I haven't done any volunteer work for them, but having seen it and having time, I thought it would be a good idea to come out and try to help," said Kathy Maloney.

While the storm tore apart the neighborhood, it unified the neighbors.

"I know that there's a lot of areas affected right now and we can make kind of a small difference," said fellow volunteer Kali Ulmer.

"When you're with people and you're helping people, you just do better. It means a lot to both of us. We just wanted to help," said Beth Farrell.

One couple says they are grateful for all the help after a tree crashed down on their roof.

Neighbors come together to help clean up after Rogers Park tornado

As volunteers and neighbors continue to remove tornado debris from the streets and sidewalks of Rogers Park one couple is waiting things out.

"I ran around, I was closing windows, and I'm not even sure if I remember the crash of the tree falling on us. It just happened so quickly," said Tim Devore.

As far as he knows, there isn't major damage from the fall, but moving the mature tree will not be an easy feat.

"We have this tree precariously resting on our house so we're unsure what's underneath it right now. None of the windows are broken, the rain gutters are probably damaged," he said.

"We had no water coming inside the house so that tells us there may be roof damage but it's not punctured to where we're getting rain in the house, so that's good," said Devore's partner, Doug Kuper.

During the tornado, Devore was inside the home while Kuper was a couple of miles away on their boat. As soon as Kuper heard what happened, he said he headed straight home.

"Everybody was safe, that was the main thing," he said with relief.

ComEd said it's bringing in 1,500 techicians from around the country to help restore power to customers after a derecho causeed widespread damage Monday afternoon.

ComEd is also rushing to respond to the more than 188,000 people in the Chicago area who are still without power as of Wednesday morning.

The electric company says the vast majority should have their electricity back by Friday, but some spots may not have power until Saturday.