Central Illinois braces for severe weather threat on Friday
Much of central Illinois is under the threat of severe thunderstorms, strong winds, tornadoes and hail on Friday.
Meteorologist John Bumgardner with the National Weather Service in Lincoln said a mix of high winds and warm temperatures creates the potential for a once-a-year weather event.
“The storms are going to have lots of fuel,” said Bumgardner, adding the storms should arrive in central Illinois along a cold front around 2 p.m. Friday.
Bumgardner said temperatures could reach into the 70s as storms roll in from Iowa, adding the rotating storms are expected to produce straight-line winds of 40 mph, and could gust up to 70 mph.
“The good news is these storms will be moving very fast, so it looks like the time window of greatest concern is going to be 4 to 8 p.m.,” Bumgardner said.
The National Weather Service has placed much of central Illinois, including Peoria and Bloomington-Normal, in an enhanced threat. That’s a level 3 threat on a 1 to 5 scale. It projects a high probability of severe winds, medium threats of tornadoes and hail and a low threat of flooding.
Bumgardner said the greatest threat for tornadoes will be northwest of the Illinois River. According to the weather service, Bloomington-Normal has at least a 10% chance of tornadoes producing EF2 strength or greater. An EF2 tornado is characterized by wind gusts of between 111-135 mph.
Bumgardner recommends having at least two ways to receive weather warnings — through a weather app or NOAA weather radio. He also urges residents to have a safe place to go if tornadoes develop and have a plan if they lose power.