Tornados strike fear into those living in Southern Illinois. This is especially true as the anniversary of the Leap Day tornado was rapidly approaching. Instead, February 28th saw a rash of tornadic activity that is somewhat unusual for this time of year. The weather has been unseasonably warm, prompting an early spring. Spring, in this area, means Tornado Season has begun. The smallest tornado (an EF-0), was spotted near the university town of Carbondale, Illinois. It was on the ground for a little over 4 miles, according to local news sources.

The next largest, a bit further east, was an EF-1. It remained on the ground for 7.5 miles and routed between Johnston City and Marion, Illinois. There was minimal damage from those two tornados and no fatalities.

Unfortunately, the other two tornados were more destructive to both property and lives. An EF-3 tornado that touched down near the eastern border of the state, traveled for 45 miles, killing one and causing considerable property damage as it moved into Indiana. There was one fatality, a 71-year-old man, Tom McCord. The fourth tornado, a very powerful EF-4, began near Perryville, Missouri. It entered Illinois and traveled a total of 50 miles, killing one and causing massive property damage.

Tornado damage and destruction

Tornados are a fact of life in this region and one of the largest in history was recorded in this region as well. The book, "Death Rides the Sky" by Angela Mason is a chronicle of the Tornado that completely destroyed several small towns. The tornado killed nearly 700 people and injured thousands in 1925.

That is the most famous tornado in the United States outside of the movie, "Twister." Those living in the region are well aware of the power tornados can wield and take appropriate steps. Local churches often open their basement on such a night to give shelter to those that live in mobile homes or homes without a basement.

The governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, has spent time in the communities impacted and has promised the assistance of the state in helping with cleanup. He spent nearly an hour in each community two days after the tornados.