CLINTON — National Weather Service storm surveyors have confirmed that a low-intensity tornado touched down Thursday about one mile from the Clinton Municipal Airport, resulting in substantial nearby and citywide damage.

In a tornado report summary released Friday afternoon by the NWS, damage results revealed that an EF1 tornado, with a path width of 75 yards, traveled approximately 13 miles from its point of impact around 5:40 p.m. to five miles north of Fulton, Illinois, before dispersing around 6 p.m.

As Mike Nass, airport manager, took time Friday to survey the area from the air, he could see a clear path of destruction heading northeast toward Second Avenue South in Clinton.

"The tornado was about a half mile to a quarter of a mile north of (the airport) when it touched down," Nass said. "From flying with people this morning, it looked like it touched down literally on the edge, of the north side of Highway 30 and headed northeast. We could see some circular marks in the field where it passed through and usually cornstalks don't lay down in a circle." 

A top wind speed of 100 miles per hour was estimated in the report, causing damage to primarily outdoor farm buildings and trees in the area.

Two other tornadoes were reported in the summary, one starting near Maysville traveling 22 miles to just south of DeWitt and the second picking up five miles northeast of Fulton and ending eight miles east of Thomson, Illinois.

Each tornado indicates a different level of intensity, though all three were rated as EF1. According to the Enhanced Fujita (EF) tornado scale, EF0 and EF1 tornadoes are considered weak.

As Thursday's low-pressure system moved east through Illinois, it continued to gain momentum and intensity eventually producing a deadly, long-lived tornado that passed through Ogle and DeKalb counties in Illinois. The NWS has assigned a preliminary rating of EF4, which constitutes a violent tornado with wind speeds that can reach up to 200 mph.

NWS meterologist Tom Phillip explained that while the EF4 came from the same general system, the tornado itself was produced from a different storm cell than what passed through the Gateway area just a few hours before.

"It seemed like the same system overall but it's more of a larger-scale thing," Phillip said. "There are different storms that developed from that same low-pressure system so it was a different storm cell as you went into central Illinois. There were stronger conditions further to the east, as we were expecting, and all the ingredients came together to make up severe thunderstorms that produced intense tornadoes."

Clinton Herald Staff Writer Amy Kent can be contacted at


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