National Weather Service confirms 11 tornadoes in Illinois, NW Indiana

Dozens displaced after roof ripped off Mundelein apartment building; 19th century barn toppled in Geneva

ByJessica D'Onofrio, Diane Pathieu, Maher Kawash, Christian Piekos, Cate Cauguiran, and Rob Hughes and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, February 29, 2024
Multiple tornado touchdowns, large hail reported in Chicago area
Funnel clouds and hail have been spotted across the Chicago area as severe weather moves through on Tuesday evening.The National Weather Service confirmed 11 tornados in Lee County, DeKalb County, Kane County, Cook County, Lake County IL and Lake County IN.

GENEVA (WLS) -- The National Weather Service confirmed at least 11 tornadoes touched down in Illinois and northwest Indiana during an outbreak of severe weather Tuesday night.

The cluster of storms also brought hail up to two inches in diameter, blinding downpours, huge bursts of lightning and very strong winds.

Six EF-0 tornadoes have been confirmed; in Waterman and Hinckley to Big Rock in DeKalb County, in Compton in Lee County, in Elburn to Campton Hills in Kane County, and in South Barrington and in Hoffman Estates in Cook County.

Five EF-1 tornadoes have also been confirmed; in Sugar Grove to Batavia and in Geneva in Kane County, in Inverness in Cook County, in Mundelein in Lake County, and from East Chicago to Gary in Lake County, Indiana.

EF-1 tornado peels roof off Mundelein apartment building, dozens displaced

Fifty-nine people are displaced after an EF-1 tornado tore through Mundelein and peeled the roof of f their apartment building.

In north suburban Mundelein, one building suffered extensive damage and has been deemed uninhabitable, leaving all 59 residents out of their homes.

"I was in the kitchen when I thought I heard a train crashing or something go woooo real loud," resident Janet Scales said.

Scales knew something was coming. Her apartment building sustained damage, but nothing quite as bad as the building next door.

"The good thing is we are alive. We had nothing happen to us," said Maria Aguirre, displaced by storm.

Aguirre had lived in her Mundelein apartment for 16 years before last night's storm. Her 11-year-old daughter Yosahandy said her family was celebrating her mom's birthday when tornado sirens started going off.

"It was like storming, we were like celebrating in the house, but we didn't know it was going to go on," she said.

"I was just screaming and grabbed my kids and running to the bathroom. It was so scary. I was so shaky," Maria said.

"The winds were really loud you could hear the debris flying around," nearby resident Eboni Irby said.

The Mundelein Fire Department said 59 people are displaed after an apartment building was badly damaged by severe storms and reported tornado touchdowns Tuesday night.

Some people said they had no idea the storm was coming last night, while others say they heard loud noises and quickly realized severe weather was coming their way and fast.

"It was so loud," Neshia McKinney said. "It was so scary, it's something I have never heard before."

McKinney said and her family live across the street, their building also was hit by the storm.

"Once I heard the sirens get louder, they jumped in the tub and I just walked around the house to make sure everything was okay," Irby said.

Mundelein Fire Chief Bill Lark said one resident had a rather nightmarish wakeup.

"One resident was laying in bed and he did see the roof actually lift off the building and come back down," Lark said.

People living in their complex decided to seek shelter when they heard the sirens, and then, in a flash, the severe weather passed.

"It seemed like the storm split, like were in the middle and storm went like this and then hit across the street and then on the other side of our building," McKinney said.

A farm in Batavia sustained significant damage from Tuesday's storms.

Although there is a lot of damage to clean up and residents don't know yet the extent of it, there are no reports of any injuries.

"When I saw things like moving around and spinning that's when I started to get scared," Janylah McKinney said. "I'm just glad we are all okay."

Mundelein's fire chief said there was one minor injury to an 11-year-old.

The Red Cross has set up a temporary shelter at Community Protestant Church. Reverend Alex Molozaiy said his church is prepared to house those displaced for as long as needed.

"It really helps to know people care about you and will try and do their best to help you," he said.

Historic barn near North Aurora toppled by severe storms

The NWS confirmed multiple tornado touchdowns in the western suburbs Tuesday night. Among the damaged was a 19th century barn that collapsed near North Aurora.

Some of the most substantial damage could be seen at the historic Reckinger farm near North Aurora. The farm's barn was toppled by the strong winds. Thankfully, no animals were present and the millions of dollars' worth of equipment is still intact, but the owner said he's never seen a storm like this come through before.

"It's Illinois, it's what happens," said owner Dan Reckinger. "It's just we never had a storm like this affect us."

Reckinger said conditions truly started to deteriorate around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"I didn't really notice the barn," he said. "I was looking at the downed power lines and trees, and it took me a minute to realize the barn was gone."

The Reckinger family has been maintaining this farm since the 1800s, and the barn that was turned into rubble has stood more as a historical landmark recently. They haven't kept dairy cows there for quite some time, so no animals were in danger.

But there were decades of memories with that barn.

"Growing up we spent a lot of time in the barn because we had dairy farms back then," he said. "When we were kids we were down here every night, seven days a week."

Hoffman Estates cleans up after EF-0 tornado

The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-0 tornado touched down in Hoffman Estates Tuesday night. Wednesday they are cleaning up.

Some of the worst damage in Hoffman Estates was at MedServ Equipment Corp., a medical equipment business, which lost about a third of its roof and suffered damage to the HVAC units that soaked his products inside.

"When I got back this morning, that's when I started noticing it was a lot worse than what we thought," owner Dave Beshoar said. "It turned out that the two rooftop HVAC units, one of them was turned completely upside down and the other was on its side."

Behoar said he should have a new roof by the end of the week, but the heating and cooling units are his biggest concern.

"That's not something you can really pick up at Lowe's. So I don't know how long it'll take them to get those replaced and until then we don't have heat," he said.

Power lines snapped by powerful winds left a couple hundred of his neighbors without heat overnight as temperatures crashed into the 20s.

"I was going church. Then all of the sudden it started swirling, and the winds just came out of nowhere," said Craig Miller.

"I've been living here almost 35-40 years. That's the first time I've ever heard that sound come through here," said Thomas Lachance.

Despite the reports of damage, there were thankfully no injuries reported.

"You hear the tornado sirens, you kind of shrug it off because it always happens to somebody else, but when it happens to you I guess all you can say is hey it's just stuff, it can be replaced. As long as nobody was hurt, we're all good," Beshoar said.

Geneva subdivision damaged by storms

The Pepper Valley subdivision was the hardest hit area here in Geneva, with trees splintered and uprooted.

Preliminary assessments from the fire department indicate eight homes have moderate to heavy damage, and that number is expected to rise as they continue to survey the area.

The sound of chainsaws echo throughout Essex Court off of Pepper Valley Drive in Geneva where several homes were rocked by high winds.

"I mean the next day when you look around, it's just, it's unbelievable," Devon Billeter said.

Video from near Somonauk shows a possible tornado.

Billetter was unable to stay in her home as the damage is too great. Her entire front foyer caved in and her chimney is on the verge of crumbling.

"The entire back of my house is collapsed," she said. "My sunroom. My garage is pretty much destroyed. It lifted the roof of the garage."

A view from Chopper7 of that area showing the damage that struck a pocket of homes near Kaneville and Randall Road.

Apparent funnel clouds were spotted in Lee County Tuesday night as a cluster of severe storms raced through the area.

Some neighbors have major roof damage after trees fell on top of their homes and others are missing things that were in their yards, like a trampoline wrapped around a tree and a swing set tossed onto a neighbor's property.

Mike Cornick took cover Tuesday night in his basement. Wednesday morning, he was cleaning up his yard.

"Our house, we're missing some shingles and we've got some siding missing and there's a lot of holes where debris flew in and cracked the siding," Cornick said.

After the sun came up, Geneva fire officials came back out to start assessing the damage. Many left wondering what exactly came through.

"I'm really not 100 percent certain what happened here," Billetter said. "I'm not sure if it was an actual tornado or a microburst but if you look at the way the trees fell, it seems like they're all twisted in different directions."

Geneva city officials estimate about 30 to 40 trees were either damaged or uprooted due to the high winds and the city has responded to at least a dozen calls for storm damage assessments. The good news is that no injuries have been reported.

Other possible tornadoes and funnel clouds were reported in Kane County near Sugar Grove, in DeKalb County, in Lee County near Paw Paw and in Hoffman Estates in Illinois as well as in East Chicago, Indiana.