1995-05-13 Illinois Tornadoes

Aug 9, 2012
Macomb, IL
I found some footage online from the tornado outbreak of May 13, 1995 recently. Some screen grabs from SD video were taken southeast of Abingdon, IL by a local farmer, Norm Wilcoxen. Sadly he has passed away upon trying to look him up.

I was wondering if anyone else had photos, videos, or experiences related to this outbreak in Illinois? It looks like it was a warm front setup across the area with very high CAPE (3000-4000 J/KG) and high helicity as well. The Storm Prediction Center went high risk for this event per the 05/13/1995 Day 1 outlook. Multiple strong to violent tornadoes impacted Western and Central Illinois during the afternoon hours including:

F4 tornado from Niota, IL to SW of Abingdon, IL
F2 tornado from SE of Abingdon, IL to Maquon, IL (pictured here)
F4 tornado near Lewistown, IL
F3 tornado near Manito/Goofy Ridge, IL
F1 tornado near LeRoy, IL
F1 tornado near Princeville, IL

There were a handful of others across Missouri, Indiana, and Kentucky but for now I just focused on Illinois.

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05/13/1995 Tornado Archive CAPE and hodograph plot overlaid with tornado tracks

Hermon, IL Close Wedge 4K.jpg
(Norm Wilcoxen) Hermon, IL F2 Tornado

Hermon, IL Meso+Wedge .jpg
(Norm Wilcoxen) Hermon, IL F2 Tornado

Hermon, IL Wedge II.jpg
Photos near Hermon, IL (Southeast of Abingdon) taken by local farmer Norm Wilcoxen extracted from SD video. This was the third significant tornado produced by this supercell that fired in Northern Missouri

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US surface contours at 21z on 5/13/1995 (SPC violent tornado page)

Storm Prediction Center 05/13/1995 06z outlook featuring a broad high risk across IA/IL/MO (Iowa Environmental Mesonet)

I was informed by a couple folks online that video of the long tracked F4 tornado from Niota to Abingdon was aired on The Weather Channel way back in 1995, however I can't find anything online from that. If someone else knows of the footage, I would LOVE to see it or hear about it.

Here is video footage by David Hoadley of the Manito/Goofy Ridge, IL F3 Tornado:

(Fulton County ESDA)

Above is a tornado track by Fulton County, IL ESDA after the May 13, 1995 F4 tornado that passed north of town. Ironically this intersected the path of the April 04, 2023 EF3 tornado that impacted almost the same exact area. I can not find any video footage of this particular storm. NCDC Storm Data shows it as an F4 and the parent storm initiated close to Macomb, IL producing softball sized hailstones. If anyone has more to add to this, I would love to hear about it.

I was a bit too young to remember this event first hand, but my parents have told me that we went out to my uncles house to seek shelter and the wedge passed less than a mile south of his place (F2 near Abingdon/Hermon). This event is something that drives my fascination with weather to this day.
Additional archived imagery online from May 13, 1995 is as follows from NWS Quad Cities and an unknown photographer near Lewistown, Illinois looking due north out of town at an F4 tornado:

Lewistown IL F4 tornado.jpg
Unknown Photographer. F4 tornado near Lewistown on 5/13/95 looking north (Spoon River Weather)

NCDC Summary on the Lewistown, IL F4: A tornado touched down 1 NE of Ipava and traveled to the northeast for seven miles, lifting and dissipating 2 NE of Lewistown. The tops of some high power line structures were broken off and 12 homes were destroyed. Numerous livestock were killed. Numerous cars and farm equipment were either damaged or destroyed. One car was thrown over a 100 yards into a farm field. Forty-five people sustained minor injuries, mainly from flying debris. Damage was estimated around $6 million. (NCDC Storm Events)

The path length is listed at 7 miles with a 880 yard width. (NCDC) Considering this is looking north out of town, I'm guessing the tornado it likely toward the end of its life cycle.

The photo is from the Facebook page "Spoon River Weather". A vehicle was thrown more than 100 yards by this twister and 45 people were injured along with numerous destroyed farms (Grazulis, 1997, p.1376).

Damage photos from the F4 Tornado near Raritan, IL (Niota IL to Abingdon, IL) from NWS Quad Cities:

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Radar image of the parent supercell thunderstorm taken from distant KLSX radar (ILX radar was in the process of being put up at the time as the office in Lincoln, IL was being finished).

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Large tornado near Roseville, IL likely starting to occlude. Spotter per NWS Quad Cities storm reports also reported softball sized hail with this storm...

Here is a list of the LSR from 5/13/1995 from Iowa Environmental Mesonet browser:

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Damaged farmstead in Warren County, Illinois taken on May 14, 1995. This was taken from NWS Quad Cities 10 year anniversary article in 2005. I'm not sure if this is still online or not. If I find anymore imagery from this event, I will post it. This is one of my favorite tornado events to go back to look on. I grew up in this area driving these same roads.