Roanoke Tornado of 2004

Roanoke Tornado of 2004

The Roanoke Tornado of 2004 was a powerful tornado that formed outside of Roanoke, Illinois, a small town in central Illinois.

On Tuesday, July 13, 2004, at 2:26 PM, a tornado with a reported width of a quarter mile (0.4 km) struck west of the village of Roanoke, damaging much of the area and cutting power to the main town of Roanoke for three days. The tornado was later rated as an F4 on the Fujita scale. The tornado started approximately one mile north of Metamora, located eight miles (12.8 km) west of Roanoke, and lifted approximately one mile (1.6 km) south of Roanoke. This was a distance of 9.6 miles (15.4 kilometers), making it a long-lived tornado.

The worst damage was the destruction of Parson's Manufacturing plant, a parts supplier for Caterpillar Inc., which was completely leveled with over one hundred people still working at the plant. Miraculously, there were no fatalities and only minor injuries. This was attributed to preparations made during the construction of the plant, and spotter training given to some of the workers. Although no tornado sirens were heard at the plant before the tornado struck, an alarm was sounded by one of the spotters, and all of the workers were able to evacuate to storm shelters to ride out the storm.

Damage at, and immediately surrounding, the plant was extreme; all of the employees' cars had been picked up and tossed into nearby cornfields, and three neighboring farmsteads suffered the brunt of the tornado at its height; all three two-story structures were completely swept away, with only debris remaining in the basements. This type of damage resulted in the National Weather Service's violent category F4 classification.

Two local residents chased the tornado for much of its 23 minute duration. They produced a half-hour long video that was sold in the Peoria area to help raise funds for employees at the Parson's plant, most of whom had lost their cars and were either underinsured or not insured.

The storm was an example of how structural planning, storm spotting and awareness techniques can be used by companies. The original builder of the plant had an option whether or not to install tornado shelters in the plant -- his decision to install storm shelters likely saved the lives of many employees at the plant years later. In addition, had the tornado struck without any warning, any employee who would not have been in the tornado shelter would have been seriously injured, if not killed. The Parson's Manufacturing plant re-opened in April 2005 with seven tornado shelters, five more than the original plant.

The Roanoke tornado was the most significant tornado of a small tornado outbreak which transitioned into a destructive derecho over an extensive area of the Ohio Valley.

ee also

*List of North American tornadoes and tornado outbreaks
*List of derecho events
*Tornadoes of 2004


External links

* [ Roanoke F4 Tornado of July 13, 2004] (NWS Central Illinois)
* [ Supercell of July 13, 2004] (NWS Chicago)
* [ Preliminary Review of WSR-88D Radar Signatures seen in the F0 & F1 Central IL Tornadoes during the Record Setting 2003 Tornado Season] (James Auten & Ernest Goetsch ~ NWS Central Illinois)
* [ The July 13, 2004 Tornado Event: Analysis of Tornadogenesis in a Highly Unstable Environment] (Ed Shimon, Pat Bak & Kirk Huettl ~ NWS Central Illinois)
* [ The July 13, 2004 Tornado Event: The Contributions of Evolving Paradigms & Human Factors in the Warning Process] (Lyle Barker ~ NWS Central Illinois)
* [ The July 13, 2004 Roanoke Illinois Tornado Event: The Warning Response Process at the Parsons Plant] (Chris Miller ~ NWS Central Illinois)

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