Photos: Severe weather generates record-setting December tornado outbreak for Illinois

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
December 05, 2018, 7:56:17 AM EST

A series of tornadoes stirred up damage from the Plains to southeast Georgia over the weekend.

A swarm of tornadoes rocked central Illinois on Saturday, making it one of the most violent December days in the state’s history.

There were 26 confirmed tornadoes in the state, according to the National Weather Service in Lincoln, Illinois. This breaks the previous December tornado record in Illinois of 21, which occurred on Dec. 18-19, 1957.

illinois tornado graphic 12518

The tornadoes snapped trees and power lines, and shifted one house off its foundation in Macon County.

Around 10,000 customers were without power in the state on Saturday night. This number dropped to below 2,000 on Sunday.

In Taylorville, all non-residents were urged to avoid the town due to severe storm damage and closed roads, according to the Illinois State Police.

“All residents of Taylorvillle are urged to stay in their homes and off the streets as first responders respond to multiple calls,” the state police said on Twitter.

IL Tornado

A funnel cloud is spotted in Beardstown, Illinois, on Saturday. (Photo/Blake Naftel)

Multiple people were reportedly trapped due to storm damage in the town, according to ABC7 Chicago.

At least 100 buildings were destroyed across the town, according to The Herald & Review.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner activated the State Emergency Operations Center, located in Springfield, in response to the severe storms.

“We activated the State Emergency Operations Center so that we could closely monitor the situation, keep in contact with local officials and quickly mobilize any state assets that may be needed,” the governor said in a statement. “If state assistance is needed, we are well positioned to provide it quickly and efficiently.”

A potent storm system that unleashed heavy snow from Nebraska to Minnesota on Saturday was also responsible for sparking the unusually violent start to December in Illinois.

"Tornadoes can happen at any month of the year across the United States; however, they are more common to occur across the Deep South during December," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun said.

"There are an average of around 24 tornadoes in the United States in December with one per year occurring in Illinois," he added.

From 1950-2017, a total of 55 tornadoes have occurred in Illinois during December, according to the National Weather Service.

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On Sunday, a radar confirmed tornado spun through the Kings Bay Naval Base in Georgia. There were reports of four injured including two sailors and two fishermen.

Downed power lines, flipped vehicles and wind damage have also been reported.

"The tornado was spawned from a thunderstorm that moved north of Jacksonville, Florida and into extreme southeastern Georgia. There were numerous other thunderstorms across northern Florida and southern Georgia throughout the afternoon," AccuWeather Meteorologist Michael Doll said.

According to Doll, there was another possible tornado in southern Georgia about an hour before the tornado hit Kings Bay Base.

The National Weather Service will survey the damage to determine the intensity of the tornado.

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