The evolution of a surprise storm

Staff reports

Sunday morning

Unseasonably warm weather preceded Monday afternoon’s tornado in Boone and McHenry counties. Dense fog blanketed the area, and it was cloudy the rest of the day.


9 a.m.

Fog was still dense, with light rain in the morning.

12:39 p.m.

In Rockford, the temperature reached a record high of 63 degrees. A typical high is 27 degrees.

2 p.m.

It started raining. Then severe weather rolled in.

2:35 p.m.

Tornado watch issued for Winnebago and Boone counties.

3:04 p.m.

Severe thunderstorm warning issued for northern Boone and Winnebago counties until 3:45 p.m.

3:08 p.m.

The Weather Service’s radar indicated a strong rotation in a severe thunderstorm eight miles southwest of Machesney Park.

3:12 p.m.

Tornado warning issued for Boone and Winnebago counties.

3:17 p.m.

Radar continued to indicate a tornado near Loves Park.

3:22 p.m.

Radar indicated strong rotation in severe thunderstorm eight miles west of Poplar Grove, moving east at 45 mph, predicted to be in Poplar Grove at 3:30 p.m., Capron by 3:40 p.m. and Harvard by 3:45 p.m.

3:25 p.m.

Tornado warning for northern Boone and northwestern McHenry counties until 4 p.m.

3:30 to 3:48 p.m.

Tornado started about 1.2 miles north of Poplar Grove in Boone County and ended at

3:45 p.m. about 3.2 miles north-northeast of Harvard in McHenry County:

The tornado had maximum winds of 136 to 165 mph, a path length of 13.2 miles and a maximum width of about 100 yards.

In Boone County:

Injuries — Jeanette Nichols, whose home at 16649 Beaverton Road, Poplar Grove, was leveled, was found covered in debris near her home. She remains in critical condition at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center. Three others also injured.

Property damage — More than a dozen properties were damaged, including most buildings at Edwards Apple Orchard; wind damage reported near 7061 Centerville Road, north of Poplar Grove; trees and power lines down; Brenda and Chuck Kastning’s shed on Capron Road wrecked but 16 calves inside OK.

In McHenry County:

Injuries — One reported.

Property damage — A house was damaged. Seven train cars derailed near Harvard. About 500 residents later evacuated in nearby unincorporated Lawrence because of potential for hazardous material leaks from rail car. A semitrailer truck overturned, and a transformer reported down.

Here’s what else happened as the tornado was still sweeping the area, and afterward:

3:30 p.m.

ComEd received reports of outages in western Boone County, with power outages eventually affecting about 6,000 customers in Boone and McHenry counties.

Police and rescue and fire personnel were on the scene of damaged properties within minutes of the tornado hitting; eventually well more than 100 emergency services staff from several agencies responded. 

3:59 p.m.

Tornado warning in northwestern McHenry County expired.


A flood warning was issued in the morning for Winnebago County until 4:38 p.m.

The Rock River Chapter of the American Red Cross gathered donated food to feed 150 victims, volunteers, and police and fire personnel.

Authorities limited the media’s access at Edwards Apple Orchard.

Dozens of family, friends and neighbors continued to clear the property and home of Ken and Barb Hall, apple orchard owners.

ComEd says power restored to all customers by late afternoon.

Sources: National Weather Service, Boone County Sheriff’s Department, ComEd, Register Star research