On Sunday, June 20th, while the rest of Illinois was getting ready for bed or preparing for the week to come, the residents of Darien were forced to seek cover as a deadly EF-3 tornado swept through the town.
The stormy weather was first spotted at around 9 pm Sunday evening when a thunderstorm warning had been issued for Ogle County. The storm was accompanied by quarter-sized hail and 60 mph wind gusts and was moving East at a steady pace of 40 mph.
By 9:40 pm, a thunderstorm warning was issued for most of Northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana. The area experienced some torrential rains, severe wind gusts, and signs of a developing tornado. Weather professionals spotted lots of lightning strikes across the region as the storm progressed.
Around 10 pm, a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Kane County as a storm with 60 mph wind gusts, and ping pong-sized hail raged over the area. A weak rotation was also spotted in the area, and residents were urged to seek shelter in their basements or on the lowest levels of their homes.
As the storm progressed, more than 1500 residents in Winnebago and Lake County were stuck in the dark as the area experienced power outages due to the storm.
By 11 pm, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Kane and DuPage Counties as a storm showed signs of increasing rotation in North Aurora. Thunderstorm warnings were issued for more than 5 Illinois counties; they included DuPage, DeKalb, Kane, Cook, LaSalle, Grundy, and Kendall Counties. Tornado sirens were also scheduled to sound off in parts of Chicago.
At 11:13 pm, a debris signature near Woodbridge and Bolingbrook indicated that a tornado had touched down in the area. The storm responsible for the tornado was moving at a speed of 50 mph in an Easterly direction. Darien, Homerglen, and Willowbrook were reported to all be in the path of the tornado. The National Weather Service noted that the tornado and the accompanying storm were “incredibly large and extremely dangerous” and urged residents to seek shelter from the “life-threatening situation”.
The EF-3 tornado touched down in Darien at 11:15 and moved at a speed of 45 mph. The tornado significantly damaged 100s of homes, leaving them uninhabitable, and uprooted nearly 200 trees. According to Municipal Services Director Dan Gombac, the damages of the storm were significant. Many residents were already fast asleep and were awoken by the sounds of the tornado sirens.
Houses were torn apart as if they were dollhouses; a structure from one specific home was found strewn nearly two blocks away. One resident’s rooftop was torn clean off as the tornado passed by their house. Several residents had their windows and screens shattered by the storm; one woman suffered some injuries due to the broken glass. One home was utterly destroyed, and only its foundation was left standing.
On Monday morning, several residents in the surrounding communities came together to help clean up and make sense of the catastrophic event that had occurred only a few hours prior.
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