Severe storms strike Sangamon County

Severe storms march across Sangamon County, power lines downed

Zach Roth
State Journal-Register

A series of fast-moving storms, including a tornado, swept across Sangamon County Monday evening.

National Weather Service spotters confirmed a tornado with damaging hail had been spotted over Pleasant Plains at 5:36 p.m., moving east toward the northern part of Springfield at 30 mph, providing golfball-sized hail (1.75 inches), rain and heavy winds. A tornado warning was put into effect for Sangamon County and the surrounding area for the next hour. The storm moved east at 35 mph over Sherman at 5:51 p.m., Mechanicsburg at 6:15 p.m. and Niantic at 6:35 p.m.

The Dawson Fire Protection District reported downed power lines at 6:12 p.m. near Buffalo Hart Road north of the village. The department said that five utility poles had snapped off due to nickel-sized hail, high winds and heavy rains, knocking out power to homes and businesses serviced by Menard Electric north of Dawson. Power had yet to be restored as of Monday night.

Menard Electric also reported 30 downed power lines in Petersburg. The lines were expected to be repaired Monday night.

National Weather Service meteorologists in Lincoln said that a "slight" risk of scattered and short-lived severe storms was possible for Springfield and the surrounding area Monday afternoon into the evening, beginning around 4 p.m. Rain was expected to continue in central Illinois into Tuesday, with the highest risk Monday night. Lightning hazards could be most prevalent from 6-9 p.m. The Springfield area could receive about a sixth of an inch of rain over the next two days, according to the NWS.

The risk is more severe, in the "enhanced" category, south of Interstate 70 near Effingham and Olney. 

More top news:Illinois weekly unemployment claims declined for fourth straight week

Erin Roberson, a meteorologist with the NWS in Lincoln, said that two separate weather patterns coming from different directions were expected south. The first, coming from Iowa, could produce heavy rainfall, wind gusts of 60-70 mph, persistent lightning hazards, and the possibility of one-inch diameter hail in the most serious cases. A second pattern coming in from Missouri about 11 p.m., was forecast to include thunderstorms with the majority of severe storms south of Interstate 70.

Lightning fills the skies as concert goers take to shelter as a severe thunderstorm approaches from the north over the Grandstand during the Illinois State Fair at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Springfield, Ill.

Others are reading:'We just thank God for being alive today' — Springfield remembers 2006 tornadoes 15 years later

"We (also) can't rule out a brief tornado or two today for both (systems)," Roberson said. "However, we think that the winds and hail will be the largest impacts today."

People are advised to seek shelter if a severe storm hits and to have a way to get timely weather information through their phone or a weather radio. Roberson also advised people to know where they will seek shelter in case a warning is issued.

"If you're running errands or at the grocery store, you want to make sure that you know where your safe place is so you can stay safe during any inclement weather," Roberson said.