NEWS

200 in Boone County remain without power

Staff reports

SPECIAL REPORT: The 1967 Belvidere tornado

About 200 households are still without power in northern Boone County because of broken poles and downed wires, according to a ComEd spokesperson.

ComEd crews expect to work into the early evening to restore power.

11:49 a.m.: Woman injured in tornado in critical condition

The woman most seriously injured in the tornado that struck the village Monday is in critical condition today at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford.

Authorities have not released her name.

The tornado destroyed the woman’s home and exposed the basement foundation.

Building materials and furnishings are strewn about her yard and scraps of debris are hanging from nearby trees.

11:44 a.m.: Alpine Dam holds flood water at bay

A flood warning remains in effect for Winnebago County until 4:38 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Keith Creek overflowed its banks and flooded parts of Aldeen Park by this morning, though the water remained at least 20 feet from the Alpine Dam spillway.

The water level of the creek remained lower in other areas of southeast Rockford.

At Churchill Park and near Logli Supermarket, 2642 Charles St., water stood between 6 and 10 feet below the creek banks.

11:42 a.m.: Residents clean up in tornado's aftermath

Chuck and Brenda Kastning, whose dairy farm on Capron Road north of Illinois 173 took a heavy hit from Monday’s tornado, found something nice to say about it.

“It did the nicest job of going through here a tornado could possibly do,” Brenda said. “If it would have torn the barn down with the other animals, that would have been devastation.”

A large barn which housed 140 cows was damaged but no animals were killed. A smaller shed with 16 calves collapsed but the animals survived.

A veterinarian was at the farm this morning, stitching up animals with puncture wounds, and dozens of friends and neighbors were helping to clean up.

Across the road from the Kastnings, George Conley was cleaning up and hoping his electricity would be back on soon. Conley said one mare was killed in the storm.

11:18 a.m.: Want to help tornado victims? Call the Red Cross

The Rock River chapter of the American Red Cross is gathering donated food from local restaurants to feed 150 victims, volunteers and police and fire personnel who are assessing the damage of Monday’s tornado, northeast of the village.

“Our emergency response vehicle is on the way out and we already have 10 volunteers helping out with damage assessment and casework assistance,” said Cedric Johnson, community relations specialist for the Rockford-based Red Cross chapter.

The agency is finding shelter for four families whose homes were severely damaged by the tornado that struck at 3:35 p.m. near Poplar Grove and Harvard. The twister destroyed eight buildings on the grounds of Edwards Apple Orchard and damaged at least six homes nearby.

“Our case workers are checking to see if the victims need medications, clothing, the basic emergency needs,” Johnson said.

Those who would like to help may call the Red Cross at 815-963-8471.

8:52 a.m.: Wis. has January tornadoes for just 2nd time since 1844

The Kenosha County sheriff says it’s a miracle no one was seriously injured Monday when a rare series of January tornadoes ripped through southeastern Wisconsin and left demolished houses in its wake.

“I have never seen damage like this in the summertime when we have potential for tornadoes,” Sheriff David Beth said. “To see something like this in January is mind-boggling to me. This is just unimaginable to me.”

Sheriff’s officials and emergency government personnel planned to survey the extent of the damage today.

“They’ll have a helicopter in the air to check out the overall view,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Krueger.

Authorities will determine what homes are no longer structurally sound and escort homeowners back into the damaged areas, sheriff’s officials said.

“With the light of day it always looks worse than at night,” sheriff’s Lt. Paul Falduto said.

Hardest hit was a subdivision in the town of Wheatland, about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee and just north of the Illinois border, where 55 homes were damaged.

Twenty-five of those houses had significant damage, Falduto said.

About 4:15 p.m. Monday, the storm system that spawned the twisters swung north from northern Illinois, according to the National Weather Service.

Deputies already were in the area, responding to a rollover accident, when they saw a house collapse, Beth said. Windblown debris ripped the emergency light bar off their squad car.

The deputies got the motorist out of the car and then ran to the house.

“They pulled the wreckage from the basement door and got some people out,” he said.

There were two or three houses where people had to be rescued, but they only suffered bumps and bruises, Beth said.

In addition to the tornado in Wheatland, another was confirmed south of Wheatland and a third on the north side of Kenosha, Wisconsin Emergency Management spokeswoman Lori Getter said.

Only minor or moderate injuries were reported, she said.

“It sounds like everyone was able to get to their basements, so that was good news,” she said.

Aurora Medical Group facilities in the area treated 13 people for storm-related injuries, but all were minor injuries, said spokesman Andy Johnson. Five were treated in Kenosha, five at the hospital in Burlington and three at the center in Elkhorn.

Tim Carpentier was among the Kenosha residents whose homes had tornado damage.

He said he and his daughters, 13 and 15 years old, heard storm warnings just after getting home. Then he heard a roar.

“I was just running down the stairs as the front windows blew out,” he said.

The front of his house was flipped over the roof, and neighboring houses had collapsed roofs and natural gas leaks.

Utility crews worked to restore power to at least 3,600 We Energies customers in Kenosha and 1,700 in Wheatland, spokeswoman Irissol Arce said.

Beckie Gilbert, a secretary who works in Wheatland, watched from her company’s back door as wispy funnel clouds grew and the tornado uprooted about five trees.

“We saw it in the distance, which wasn’t far, and it was pretty scary,” she said. “We were watching as it picked up dirt and got really dark, and then it disappeared over some trees.”

The tornado warning disrupted legal proceedings in Walworth County, as at least 300 people were evacuated to a courthouse basement as a precaution.

Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce E. Schroeder was presiding over opening testimony in a high-profile murder trial that was moved in Walworth County. He said he couldn’t believe it when the deputy said the courtroom had to be evacuated because of a tornado warning.

“It’s a first,” he said while waiting in the basement. “I’ve actually had ... warnings occur during jury trials before and frankly I just ignored them. But not in January.”

The evacuation lasted about an hour.

According to data from the National Weather Service, Wisconsin previously had recorded only one tornado in January since 1844.

The twisters were part of an odd series of weather phenomena. The temperature in Milwaukee soared to a record for the date of 63 degrees, far above the previous high of 47 in 1965 and again in 2003.

Madison hit a record high for Jan. 7 of 50 degrees, three degrees higher than the previous high in 2003.

7:54 a.m.: Flood warning issued in Winnebago County

A flood warning has been issued for the Pecatonica River near Shirland, where the water was at 8.3 feet at 3:30 a.m. today.

Flood stage is 12 feet. The Weather Service expects the river to rise above flood stage by Friday morning and reach 12.2 feet by Friday night. It will fall below flood stage on Sunday, the service said.

A flood advisory remains in effect in Boone County and a flood watch is in effect in Ogle County with a 70 percent chance of rain today.

The National Weather Service said recent snow melt has left soils saturated with creeks and streams running high. A quarter- to half-inch of rain was expected.

Low-lying areas near the river will be flooded.

There could be widespread fog this morning, with winds of 10 to 20 mph, according to the forecast. The predicted high for the day was in the 40s but the temperature was 53 degrees at 7 a.m.

There will be a cloudy sky and light rain early tonight. There’s a chance of light snow late tonight with no accumulation. Lows will be in the upper 20s.

Wednesday will be much cooler, but sunny. Highs will be in the mid-30s, lows in the upper 20s.

Highs will be in the upper 30s Thursday, before descending to the upper 20s by the weekend. There’s a 40 percent chance of light snow Thursday.

7:24 a.m.: 250 Poplar Grove customers remain without power after storm

About 250 customers in the Poplar Grove area remain without power this morning, Paul Callighan of Com Ed said.

Callighan said power should be restored to everyone in the rural area by mid-afternoon.

About 120 customers are without power in Lawrence in McHenry County, but crews can’t get in the area until an evacuation order is lifted, he said.

The area was evacuated after seven train cars were derailed and authorities took precautions against a hazardous material leaking.

Rockford Register Star