Tornado outbreak of April 20, 2004

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April 20, 2004 tornado outbreak
The 2004 Utica Tornado Story - Part 1 of 3 (493082310).jpg
Memorial crosses, Utica
Type Tornado outbreak
Duration April 20, 2004
Tornadoes confirmed 31
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 scale

2Time 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.[1]

Damage and casualties[edit]

Granville/Utica, IL F3 tornado[edit]

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.[2]

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.[3]

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).[4]

Tornado table[edit]

Source: [1]

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
FU F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
0 18 10 2 1 0 0 31
List of confirmed tornadoes - April 20, 2004
Time (UTC)
Path length
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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "1630Z (11:30 a.m. CDT) Day 1 Convective Outlook for 20 April, 2004". NOAA Storm Prediction Center. 
  2. ^ "Storm Events Database". NCDC. NCDC. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  3. ^ "NCDC events". NCDC. NCDC. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  4. ^ 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. 

External links[edit]