April 2004 Utica tornado outbreak

April 2004 Utica tornado outbreak

Infobox tornado outbreak
name=April 2004 Utica tornado outbreak
date=April 20, 2004
image location=The 2004 Utica Tornado Story - Part 1 of 3 (493082310).jpg

duration=Approximately 4 hours
total damages (USD)=
total fatalities=9
areas affected=Northern Illinois, Northern Indiana, Eastern Iowa

The April 2004 Utica tornado outbreak was a tornado outbreak affecting parts of the Upper Midwest on April 20, 2004. Thirty tornadoes formed in eastern Iowa, extending into northern and central Illinois and Indiana, but a tornado that touched down in Utica was the only one to incur fatalities.

Utica was hit by a tornado rated F3 on the Fujita scale. The winds caused the superstructure of the Milestone Tap, a barn converted into a tavern in downtown Utica, to collapse into its basement, causing the deaths of eight people. This tornado touched down around La Salle, Illinois (in LaSalle County) around 6:09 p.m. (Central Daylight Time), and approached Utica 1 minute later. Sirens all around town signaled people to take cover. The tornado left shortly thereafter. A long-track wedge tornado immediately preceded the Utica tornado.

One month after the tornado struck Utica, the village clerk's son was stillborn, likely due to the stresses incurred by the clerk during the rebuilding effort. In a memorial service one year after the tornado struck, he was recognized by the village as the ninth victim of the tornado.

Damage and Casualties

Utica tornado

The tornado destroyed over half of downtown Utica and over 100 homes. Eight people died instantly of accidental causes and six others were injured and trapped when the floor of a 100-year-old tavern, called Milestone, collapsed into the basement, where they had taken shelter. The collapse took place when a vehicle crashed into the tavern's main floor.

On June 2, 2005, the Village Clerk's son was stillborn. The clerk had worked 16 hour days from the day the tornado hit until his birth, and his death was attributed to stress as a result of the work. In a memorial service on April 19, 2005, the city of Utica recognized him as the ninth victim. [cite news |url=http://docs.newsbank.com/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info:sid/iw.newsbank.com:NewsBank:CTRB&rft_val_format=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&rft_dat=10998B6B9F765BF2&svc_dat=InfoWeb:aggregated5&req_dat=AA98CDC331574F0ABEAFF732B33DC0B2 |title=Utica tornado is gone, but new storms brew - Year after tragedy killed 8, town divided over honoring victims |date=2005-04-20 |publisher=Chicago Tribune |author=Casillas, Ofelia]


The Utica tornado challenged previous perceptions about tornadoes in both the formative and mature stages. Among them were the following:

Tornadoes do not form in valleys. Because of the course of the Illinois River, the town of Utica is situated about 50 feet (15 meters) below the mean elevation of surrounding terrain. In a story written by the Chicago Tribune, residents related that they did not believe that a tornado would enter the Illinois River Valley. Indeed, the tornado had damaged Granville, a town 10 miles (5 km) to the west-southwest. It then crossed into the Illinois River Valley from the south, damaged Utica, and dissipated while exiting the valley to the north.

Atmospheric conditions required to form tornadoes on a small scale. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma had only issued a forecast for general thunderstorms at the time of the tornado, with a See Text message for isolated severe weather. Neither large-scale models nor local soundings by the Chicago office could predict the ultimately small-scale event that caused 6 supercellular storms to spawn 14 tornadoes.

Tornado safety. Tornado warnings were issued 15 minutes in advance, after the tornado had passed Granville. All of the town's residents had made it to storm shelters by the time the tornado hit; however, no one could predict that the Milestone would collapse due to the force of the tornado. Thus, despite the long lead time residents had in advance of the tornado, casualties due to the tornado were very high.

As of April 2005, the village of North Utica is still working towards recovery. It has hired planning and engineering consultants (TENG Engineering) to help strategize its recovery and rebuilding. The Illinois Chapter of the American Planning Association held a Pro Bono Charrette to aid in this process on September 25, 2004.

Apart from plans to redevelop its destroyed downtown, the village is also planning a memorial for the victims of the tornado at the site of the tragedy.

On April 5, 2005, Chicago Tribune reporter Julia Keller won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The series, published December 5 through December 7 of 2004, was entitled "Wicked Wind" and detailed how the tornado affected some of the residents of Utica. In addition, The Weather Channel premiered an episode of the program Storm Stories in 2004 about the Utica Tornado Outbreak.

Tornado table

Source: [http://www.tornadohistoryproject.com/tornadomap.php?yr=2004&mo=4&day=20&st=%25&fu=%25&co=&l=500&submit=Search&format=basic&p=1&s=1]


ee also

*List of North American tornadoes and tornado outbreaks
*Tornadoes of 2004

External links

* [http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/specials/chi-utica-specialpackage,1,5924012.special?coll=chi-newsspecials-hed Chicago Tribune Special Report: Wicked Wind] (Chicago Tribune)
* [http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ilx/events/apr202004/apr20tor.php Severe Weather Outbreak of April 20, 2004] (NWS Central Illinois)
* [http://www.crh.noaa.gov/dvn/WeatherEvents/4_20_04_clinton_tor/index.php Preliminary Storm Survey Results for the April 20, 2004 Clinton County Iowa Tornadoes] (NWS Quad Cities, IA/IL)
* [http://www.crh.noaa.gov/dvn/WeatherEvents/4_20_04_putnam_tor/index.php Preliminary Storm Survey Results for the April 20, 2004 Putnam & Bureau County Tornadoes] (NWS Quad Cities, IA/IL)
* [http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lot/science/20Apr2004_tor.pdf Tornadoes in a Deceptively Small CAPE Environment: The 4/20/04 Outbreak in Illinois and Indiana] (Albert E. Pietrycha, Jonathan M. Davies, Mark Ratzer, and Paul Merzlock)
* [http://www.crh.noaa.gov/dvn/WeatherEvents/4_20_04_clinton_tor/index.php Storm Survey Results for the April 20, 2004 Clinton County Tornadoes] (NWS Quad Cities, IA/IL)
* [http://www.crh.noaa.gov/dvn/WeatherEvents/4_20_04_putnam_tor/index.php Storm Survey Results for the April 20, 2004 Putnam & Bureau County Tornadoes] (NWS Quad Cities, IA/IL)
* [http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/archive/2004/day1otlk_20040420_1630.html Storm Prediction Center 1630Z (11:30 a.m. CDT) Day 1 Convective Outlook for 20 April, 2004]
* [http://www.fema.gov/news/event.fema?published=1&id=2924 Federal Disaster Declaration] (FEMA)

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