Harrisburg Tornado EF-4 and More Severe Weather on the Way

Feb 29, 2012

Saline County Authorities Start Recovery Efforts

From WSIU-Radio

The recovery process is underway in Harrisburg following Wednesday morning's strong storms that resulted in major damage and loss of life.

The Saline County Sheriff's office has now revised the death toll.  Officials report 6-people are dead and more than 100- injured as a result of the storm. No additional details are currently available. Storm victims are also being transported to hospitals in Williamson County for treatment.  Sheriff's officials report more than 200 homes damaged or destroyed in Harrisburg along with 25 businesses, including the hospital.

Saline County authorities say a 6:00 pm curfew will be enforced Wednesday night in Harrisburg.

Tornado in Harrisburg was EF-4

Three Field teams from the National Weather Service office in Paducah are on the ground in southern Illinois. A preliminary investigation suggests the tornado that surged through the Harrisburg area was an EF-4. NWS team member Rick Shanklin told WSIU Radio a review of the damage near the Walmart store and surrounding neighborhood indicates wind speeds in excess of 170 miles per hour.  Shanklin says the storm’s path was about 200-yards wide as it moved through the southeast side of Harrisburg.

More Severe Weather Coming This Weekend

Another bout of severe weather is on the way to the Four Rivers Region. McCracken County Emergency Management Meteorologist Beau Dodson says the storms could arrive as early as tomorrow evening. But he says the worst part of the storms could strike the region Friday.

“I definitely think some of those will produce damaging winds, large hail, and some tornadoes in the Ohio Valley," Dodson says. "We’ll probably have to fine tune the area of greatest risk, but I am concerned. It does look like the wind fields will be strong and we’ll probably see some more tornadoes.”

Dodson says part of the danger from this morning’s storms came from their timing. He says people shouldn’t count on being woken up by outdoor sirens. Instead, Dodson recommends investing in a weather radio to that will alert you when a warning is issued.

“We really encourage people to buy a weather radio because that’s your indoor siren, that’s your personal tornado siren you could call it," He says. "And a two and three o’clock in the morning when those weather radios go off, they’re gonna wake you up. You get up, you listen to the information, you take shelter.”

Dodson says the next storm will arrive around mid-morning Friday.