The Heat Is Online

Flash Floods Drop 2.5 neches of Rain in Two Hours in Illinois

Funnel clouds, flash floods reported in Illinois

The Associated Press, June 23, 2010

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Strong winds tore the roof off small a small-town apartment complex Tuesday as a series of storms that spawned several funnel clouds and a possible tornado soaked much of central Illinois.

In Beardstown, about 45 miles northwest of Springfield, 26 families were without a place to stay after winds tore the roof off their apartment building about 1:40 a.m., Mayor Bob Walters said. A shelter was set up at a local school.

"It tore the roof right off of it, threw it across the street about a half block away," Walters said. "It wasn't declared a tornado; you'd never know it by looking at the city."

Weather monitoring equipment at Beardstown High School recorded winds of 100 mph, he said.

Other homes and businesses also were damaged, and trees were down all over town after what the mayor called the worst storm he could recall. At one point, Ameren reported several thousand people in the area without power.

Crews had cleared most major roads by late Tuesday afternoon, but the cleanup could last a month, Walters said.

"Fortunately, we haven't had any reported injuries," he said. "Some people were trapped in their houses because tree limbs fell down and things like that."

The heavy rain fell on ground that was already wet from previous storms and created flash foods across the region.

In Farmington, about 20 miles west of Peoria, a foot of water washed over downtown streets during the early morning, according to the National Weather Service. Streets were flooded, too, in Pana, where 2.2 inches of rain fell.

About 30 miles north in Decatur, 2.48 inches of rain fell in less than two hours, flooding streets and further stressing the sewer system.

"Some of the sewers were still running partly full before we got this rain," Public Works employee Dan Mendenall told the Herald & Review newspaper. "Which means the capacity that was in there wasn't enough to really handle this rain."

Further east, the weather service reported several funnel clouds near Rankin, Hoopseton and Rossville and a possible tornado near Melvin. It had not yet confirmed a touch down Tuesday evening. There were no immediate reports of damage.

Jim Ehmen, who lives near Paxton, about 30 miles east of the Indiana border, saw one of them.

"We had a funnel cloud hanging out of the sky for a little while," he said, "and just about touched the ground when I saw it."

His concern, though, wasn't the tornado, but the water many of his corn and soybean plants were standing in.

"It's been standing in water for practically a month," he said, adding that he's considering replanting the soybeans and is worried the corn isn't developing good roots.

Ehmen said his fields could use a little dry weather and he might get it. The forecast for most of central Illinois calls for dry, mostly sunny weather from Wednesday through Saturday.

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