Rare December tornadoes reported in central US; 1 dead

Franklin County EMA assisting Central Illinois with tornado recovery efforts

May is the peak month, with an average of 15 tornadoes.

According to ABC News, a total of 22 tornadoes were reported to the National Weather Service, appearing across counties including Christian, Mason, Fulton, Cass, and Macoupin among others.

"This is the biggest December outbreak in IL since 1957", he said. IL averages 47 tornadoes annually, usually peaking in May, but a strong cold front set up "the ideal conditions" for Saturday's blitz, says CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar.

The National Weather Service said that 12 tornadoes hit near Peoria, Illinois, on Saturday, causing major damage. Preliminary estimates indicate that storm may have produced winds of up to 130 mph (209 kilometres per hour).

The warning helped residents take cover and may have saved lives. The tornado was rated an EF2, which indicates wind speeds as high as 135 miles per hour.

The weather service said Sunday that a strong tornado that developed from severe thunderstorms Friday night touched down in Van Buren, Arkansas.

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Hardest hit was the town of Taylorville, about 30 miles southeast of the capital of Springfield.

About 10 minutes later, a second weaker tornado was confirmed less than 10 miles (16 kilometers) away near the town of Rudy, Arkansas.

Assistant Fire Chief Andy Goodall spoke to reporters Saturday night shortly after the storms pounded the city of 11,000.

At least three people are being treated for major injuries at Memorial Hospital in Springfield and 18 more suffered minor injuries, Rauner said.

Authorities say at least 20 people were injured and dozens of homes were damaged. Majority were discharged within hours of their arrival.

Central Illinois endured several tornadoes on Saturday, resulting in fascinating footage of the funnels spinning through the state. Its path was intermittent and mostly caused damage to trees and some structures. Several agencies report to the operations center, including the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Department of Public Health and the American Red Cross.

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