Chicago not tornado-proof

Chicago not tornado-proof

Chicago has developed a false reputation as being impervious to tornadoes despite being known as the Windy City. Over the course of history, Chicago have seen very few tornadoes with respect to rest to rest of Illinois. Illinois sees dozens of tornadoes annually and has endured the nation’s deadliest tornado, the 1925 Tri-State tornado.

1925 Tri-State tornado has killed 695 people and 2,000 injured on a path from northeastern Missouri through southern Illinois and Indiana. Experts have said that Chicagoan have been in a false perception that the city can’t have tornadoes as there hasn’t been a severe tornado near the city in decades. Many of them consider the city tornado-proof as they think that the city is protected by the cooler temperatures and breezes from Lake Michigan, or that downtown’s skyline is a stumbling block for cyclones.

Many scientists have been fighting the misnomers for years and one of them is Northern Illinois University assistant professor Victor Gensini. Gensini says, “People in Chicago are complacent because there’s an urban legend that the lake will steer a tornado away or that the buildings are going to protect you.”

Tornadoes require a clash of warm and cold air. In the spring, as Lake Michigan thaws from its winter freeze, the areas near the lake stay cooler. And the cooler ground-level temperatures make for less than ideal conditions for a tornado generation. Matt Friedlein, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Romeoville says, “On those type of days, where there’s a weak lake breeze, that will have a minimal effect, because the environment is so volatile.”

Friedlein also said, “It can produce long-lived storms and tornado potential. Some of the tornadoes (that have occurred in Illinois) go 25-plus miles.” The skyrocket buildings will do little to stop the tornado if it is created in the city.

Senior writer at the Chicago Morning Star

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