CHICAGO (CBS)– Officials confirmed 26 tornado touchdowns reported in Central Illinois Saturday night.
This is a record total for Illinois tornadoes in December. Prior to Saturday, the highest was 21 reported tornadoes in December of 1957.
Saturday’s tornado outbreak also ranked as the third largest of any month in Illinois history. The largest tornado outbreak ever recorded in Illinois was on April 19, 1996, when 36 tornadoes touched down.
One final survey was set to be conducted Tuesday in Sangamon County, so the total number of tornadoes from Saturday could still rise.
The greatest damage from tornadoes on Saturday was in Taylorville, about 30 miles southeast of Springfield. An EF-3 tornado, with peak winds of 155 mph, traveled a path of 12.7 miles. The twister destroyed or severely damaged 34 homes, and caused major damage to 66 more. More than 400 additional homes were damaged, but still inhabitable.
Fire departments from Christian County and other neighboring areas rescued and responded to many residents.
Taylorville Memorial Hospital reported 21 patients sustained storm-related injuries and one patient was critically injured.
According to Ameren, at least 100 power poles were destroyed.
Smaller EF-0 and EF-1 tornadoes also touched down in the towns of Brooklyn, Beardstown, Bluff City, Lewiston, Easton, Forest City, South Pekin, Morrisonville, LeRoy, Ellsworth, Colfax, Maroa, Stonington, Boody, and Harristown, as well as in Moraine View State Park.
The tornado in Beardstown damaged a water treatment plant, and knocked down several trees and power poles. The twister that moved through Bluff City and Lewiston knocked one home off its foundation, damaged roofs and siding on some other homes, and caused extensive tree damage.
Survey crews planned to visit the town of Mechanicsburg on Tuesday to determine if a tornado touched down there as well.
Governor Bruce Rauner announced the decision to activate the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield on Saturday.
“We activated the State Emergency Operations Center so that we could closely monitor the situation, keep in contact with local officials and quickly mobilize any state assets that may be needed,” said Rauner in a press release. “If state assistance is need, we are well-positioned to provide it quickly and efficiently.”