Thursday marked the 34th anniversary of the worst-ever tornado event to strike Geneva.
On April 21, 1967, 18 tornadoes struck Illinois. Other tornadoes roared through Belvedere, Oak Lawn and Lake Zurich, killing more than 60 people.
The tornado touched down in the southwest part of Geneva, causing minor damage to homes. The tornado then sped northeast, crossing the Fox River, and slammed into the Illinois State Training School for Girls. The storm overturned a trailer and damaged the roof of a dormitory.
The twister’s next target was the Ridgewood Subdivision. Twenty-four homes were damaged and two were destroyed. There was a total of half a million dollars’ worth of damage in Ridgewood. An electrical substation was severely damaged near the subdivision.
The tornado continued northeast, and eventually dissipated near the intersection of Kirk and Averill roads. Luckily, only minor injuries occurred from the Geneva tornado. But this significant weather event from the past is a reminder that we are in tornado season now.
It is a good idea to review some of the basic tornado safety procedures. Follow these rules if there is a tornado warning issued for your area or a tornado has been sightednearby.
In a home or building, move to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement. If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and get under a sturdy piece of furniture. Stay away from windows.
If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter, immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If flying debris hits your vehicle while you are driving, pull over and park.
Now you have the following options as a last resort: Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket, if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.
Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned.
Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that advance warning is not possible. Remain alert for signs of an approaching tornado. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most deaths and injuries.
Purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio is the most efficient and quickest way to receive severe weather watches and warnings. It is the smoke detector for severe weather and can wake you up with a siren when a warning is issued. The new weather radios equipped with SAME technology will allow you to select the counties you only wish to hear warnings for.
Do not always wait for the outdoor warning sirens. Sirens are controlled by the local cities. You may not be able to hear the siren inside your home or local business.
To hear more about tornadoes, severe storms, safety rules and information about this past year’s blizzard, come to the 31st annual Tornado and Severe Storm Seminar hosted byWGN-TV meteorologist Tom Skilling at Fermilab’s Ramsey Auditorium on Saturday, April 30.
There will be two sessions, at noon and 6 p.m. This is a program that Tom and I started in 1981. I will be there making a presentation, as well. Admission is free and seating is first come, first served. When traveling to the lab, use the Pine Street entrance off of Kirk Road.
For more information, go to www.asktom.org.