Tornado outbreak of April 20, 2004
Memorial crosses, Utica
|Duration||April 20, 2004|
|Max rating1||F3 tornado|
|Duration of tornado outbreak2||Approximately 4 hours|
|Casualties||8 fatalities (+1 indirect), 21 injuries|
|Areas affected||Illinois, Indiana, Iowa|
1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale2Time from first tornado to last tornado
The April 20, 2004, tornado outbreak was a tornado outbreak that affected parts of the U.S. Upper Midwest on April 20, 2004. Thirty tornadoes formed in eastern Iowa, extending into northern and central Illinois and Indiana. A tornado that struck Utica, Illinois, was the only one to cause fatalities. An unusual feature of the outbreak is the fact that it was largely unexpected, as the SPC only issued a "See Text" outlook area the day of the event.
Damage and casualties
Granville/Utica, IL F3 tornado
The only killer tornado of the outbreak touched down in Putnam County, Illinois north of Florid before moving east and striking Granville. Witnesses reported a multiple vortex tornado just prior to its arrival in Granville. The town was bisected by the half mile wide tornado with 12 buildings destroyed, 45 with major damage, and 26 with minor damage (mainly residential). The Granville State National Bank lost its roof, and Hopkins Elementary School lost the roof over the old gymnasium with damage in nearly all the classrooms. Significant damage also occurred to Granville Drugs, the only drug store in town. In a strange twist of irony, the town had finally recovered from a major fire 4 years earlier that decimated much of the business district. In Granville, 5 people were injured by the tornado, including an elderly female who suffered a heart attack during the tornado and was eventually Life Flighted to a Peoria hospital. Injuries were low due to the 32 minutes of lead time before the tornado struck Granville. Damage in Granville was estimated to be at least $8 million, with the school suffering at least $3.5 million in damage. Damage in town was rated high-end F2.
The tornado entered LaSalle County, Illinois from Putnam County, approximately 3 miles northeast of the town of Standard, producing F0 intensity damage in a wooded area southwest of Peru. As the tornado continued northeast, and F2 intensity damage was done to several homes in a subdivision near the intersection of East 250th and 2569th Roads. Several roofs were blown off homes, along with damage to external walls. Significant tree damage was done as well. Path width was estimated at 50 yards at this location. The tornado then continued northeast, crossing the Illinois River twice as it moved toward the town of Utica, downing a steel high tension tower on the north bank of the river, immediately west of Illinois 251. The tornado moved into the southwest side of Utica where it was at F0 intensity. Homes along Washington Street only had tree and minor roof damage. A church steeple was damaged between Johnson and Washington streets. Roofs and trees were more severely damaged on the south side of Johnson Street. The tornado rapidly increased to F3 intensity on the north side of Johnson Street where one home had its roof taken off, and north walls were blown out. A machinery building was completely destroyed on the south side of the canal and a semi-tractor trailer was blown into the canal. A large grain bin was blown across the canal and flattened. The tornado then moved north of the canal into the heart of town where several homes were severely damaged, garages were destroyed, and brick buildings collapsed. Eight people died and seven were rescued from the basement of the turn of the century sandstone Milestone Tap tavern. The structure collapsed when a vehicle was thrown into it. The tornado was approximately 250 yards wide at this point. On the east edge of the vortex along Mill Street, in downtown, buildings suffered damage to facades, roofs and windows. East of Mill Street there was damage to trees and minor roof damage. In the northeast section of town a mobile home was overturned just east of Mill Street. The vortex crossed the railroad tracks and apparently dissipated on a steep bluff on the northeast side of town. At the top of the hill there were some trees and limbs downed, and some debris from town was deposited.
On June 2, 2004, the Village Clerk's son was stillborn. The clerk, Angela Brown, had worked 16-hour days following the tornado hit until his birth, and she stated her doctors attributed his death in part to stress as a result of this work. In a memorial service on April 19, 2005, the city of Utica recognized him as the ninth victim (though this death is not counted in the official NCDC total).
|List of confirmed tornadoes - April 20, 2004|
|F0||NW of Victoria||Knox||2216||unknown||Destroyed one farm building and damaged two other farm buildings. Trees and power lines were downed as well.|
|F1||E of Wyoming to W of Whitefield||Stark, Marshall, Bureau||2213||unknown||In Stark County, the tornado blew out 5 windows at a house and damaged the roof of a barn. In Marshall County, a barn and a pole barn were destroyed, farm equipment was damaged, and a grain bin was blown into a field. In Bureau County, the tornado struck a farmstead before dissipating, damaging the roof of the farmhouse along with several barns and outbuildings.|
|F3||Granville/Utica areas||Putnam, LaSalle||2273||15.8 miles||8 deaths - See section above|
|F2||N of Utica to Ottawa||LaSalle||2316||9 miles||Multiple-vortex tornado touched down just outside Utica just after the main F3 dissipated. East of town, it caused damage to 2 homes, trees, and outbuildings. Part of the roof of a house was torn off. A garage and grain bin were destroyed, and another garage lost its roof. The tornado then crossed I-80, damaging a building and flipping a semi-tractor trailer. The tornado then destroyed a machine shed and downed several power poles and trees. Two houses in this area were damaged before the tornado dissipated, with one sustaining roof damage, and the other losing most of its second story.|
|F0||E of Utica||LaSalle||2316||2.5 miles||Satellite tornado to the second Utica tornado. Caused no damage.|
|F1||W of Wedron||LaSalle||2355||unknown||Tornado overturned a shed and a camping trailer, and snapped several trees. A detached garage was completely destroyed.|
|F0||S of Sheridan||LaSalle||2383||2 miles||Minor tree damage occurred.|
|F0||SW of Minooka||Grundy||0016||unknown||Tornado struck an industrial complex. A wastewater treatment building was destroyed, with walls blown out and structural beams bent. There was damage to overhead doors, and an air handling unit was torn from a roof of another building. Further east, there was damage to walls and roof of an outbuilding. Antennas was blown down at the fire station on Route 6.|
|F1||Joliet||Will||0075||1.6 miles||Tornado affected mainly residential areas. Extensive tree damage occurred, and structures sustained minor damage. Roofs were blown off of a few homes and garages were destroyed as well.|
|F1||S of Kankakee||Kankakee||0056||unknown||A house had its roof torn off, and numerous trees were snapped and uprooted. An empty corrugated grain bin was pushed into a tree. The tornado continued northeast to the Cognis chemical plant where the brick wall of a building fell outward. About 200 feet of chain link fence was torn up. Several cinder block buildings were damaged or destroyed in this complex just northeast of where the fence was taken out. A nearby bus garage sustained roof damage. A barn and several sheds were destroyed as well.|
|F0||N of Piper City (1st tornado)||Ford||2386||unknown||A grain bin and an outbuilding were damaged.|
|F0||N of Piper City (2nd tornado)||Ford||2386||unknown||Remained over open country with no damage.|
|F0||W of Ashkum||Iroquois||2398||5 miles||Remained over open country with no damage.|
|F2||NW of Hopkins Park||Kankakee||0030||3 miles||Several homes were damaged, a mobile home was destroyed, and large trees were knocked down or damaged. A church lost its roof and some walls. Two irrigation systems were overturned as well.|
|F0||Grant Park||Kankakee||0105||3 miles||A few homes in town sustained minor roof damage. Part of the roof of the fire station was peeled off, and a fence was damaged. Trees were downed, and a farm building sustained minor damage as well.|
|F0||SE of Beecher||Will||0130||1.5 miles||Tornado pulled shingles off of two mobile homes, and damaged the roof of a barn.|
|F1||NW of Tuscola to SW of Pesotum||Douglas, Champaign||1900||unknown||Tornado damaged the front porch of a home, destroyed the garage, damaged a couple of sheds, and blew down several large trees. When the garage collapsed, it damaged a 1975 Corvette, as well as another car and two antique tractors. A nearby abandoned house was damaged as well. Tornado crossed into Champaign County, where it destroyed a barn, as well as several trees and power lines before dissipating.|
|F0||NW of Sidney||Champaign||1953||unknown||Brief touchdown over open fields.|
|F1||NW of Welton||Clinton||0013||1.3 miles||A machine shed was destroyed, as well as a 100-year-old barn and a hog building. A farmhouse sustained minor shingle and siding damage, and a nearby water tower had its wooden roof torn off.|
|F1||Jamestown||Boone||2266||2 miles||Caused significant damage to a dozen homes in town. 2 homes had their roofs blown completely off and tossed several hundred feet into a corn field. There were 8 minor injuries, including one man whose semi was blown over along Interstate 74.|
|F0||SW of Lebanon||Boone||2275||unknown||Scattered minor damage occurred.|
|F1||E of Frankfort||Clinton||2225||3.8 miles||Tornado destroyed 2 garages and a high school scoreboard, and also damaged a barn.|
|F0||SE of Russiaville||Howard||2275||unknown||A barn was destroyed and a grain bin was overturned.|
|F1||Kokomo||Howard||2300||.7 miles||Tornado severely damaged a skating rink and trucking company. There was also damage to 3 other homes. 1 minor injury was reported.|
|F0||W of Amboy||Miami||2340||1 miles||Tornado left swirl marks in a field. No actual damage occurred.|
|F1||SW of Lincolnville||Wabash||0013||2 miles||Two homes were heavily damaged and a barn was destroyed.|
|F0||N of Harlansburg||Huntington||0041||3.5 miles||There was minor damage to 5 homes and some trees.|
|F0||E of Huntington||Huntington||0066||6 miles||Minor tree damage occurred.|
|F0||Point Isabel area||Grant||0051||unknown||Brief touchdown in a field with damage.|
|F0||N of Elwood||Madison||0040||unknown||A barn was destroyed.|
|F0||E of Fairmount||Grant||0043||4 miles||Trees were damaged and power poles were snapped.|
|Sources: Severe Weather Outbreak of April 20, 2004, Tornado History Project Tornado Map - April 20, 2004, The April 20, 2004 Deadly Tornado Outbreak in Illinois and Indiana|
- "1630Z (11:30 a.m. CDT) Day 1 Convective Outlook for 20 April, 2004". NOAA Storm Prediction Center.
- "Storm Events Database". NCDC. NCDC. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
- "NCDC events". NCDC. NCDC. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
- Casillas, Ofelia (2005-04-20). "Utica tornado is gone, but new storms brew - Year after tragedy killed 8, town divided over honoring victims". Chicago Tribune.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 2004 Utica tornado.|
- Chicago Tribune Special Report: Wicked Wind (Chicago Tribune)
- Severe Weather Outbreak of April 20, 2004 (NWS Central Illinois)
- Preliminary Storm Survey Results for the April 20, 2004 Clinton County Iowa Tornadoes (NWS Quad Cities, IA/IL)
- Preliminary Storm Survey Results for the April 20, 2004 Putnam & Bureau County Tornadoes (NWS Quad Cities, IA/IL)
- Tornadoes in a Deceptively Small CAPE Environment: The 4/20/04 Outbreak in Illinois and Indiana (Albert E. Pietrycha, Jonathan M. Davies, Mark Ratzer, and Paul Merzlock)
- Storm Survey Results for the April 20, 2004 Clinton County Tornadoes (NWS Quad Cities, IA/IL)
- Storm Survey Results for the April 20, 2004 Putnam & Bureau County Tornadoes (NWS Quad Cities, IA/IL)
- Federal Disaster Declaration (Federal Emergency Management Agency)