Tornado at peak strength at 5:12 PM
|Date||April 7, 2020|
|Times||4:54 PM to 5:49 PM|
|Touchdown location||Southwest of Taylor Springs|
|Areas affected||Southwest of Taylor Springs to northwest of Kincaid, Illinois|
| Part of the|
The 2020 Hillsboro tornado was a violent, long-tracked, very high-end EF3 tornado which impacted Taylor Springs, Hillsboro, Wenonah, Clarksdale, and Kincaid, Illinois, late in the afternoon of April 7, 2020. Notable for following an unusual curved path, the tornado was responsible for two fatalities and 371 injuries.
Although the tornado retained a narrow "elephant trunk" shape for the duration of its life cycle, it attained peak winds at the precise threshold of the EF3 and EF4 categories, and inflicted severe damage on numerous buildings. The tornado also was also notable for sustaining its peak winds for a remarkable 11 minutes.
The Hillsboro tornado was part of a larger outbreak spawned by an oblong cell complex ranging from central Illinois to central Indiana. Numerous weaker tornadoes touched down across the two states in the hours preceding the Hillsboro tornado, though none were responsible for any fatalities.
At 4:16 PM, a tornado watch was issued for Montgomery County, Illinois as two powerful supercells approached. By 4:32 PM a tornado warning was issued for southern Hillsboro and Taylor Springs. Straight-line winds were recorded at 71 miles per hour in northern Hillsboro at 4:43 PM; at approximately the same time, a 4.7 inch hailstone fell in Taylor Springs.
At 4:54 PM, a rope tornado touched down in an empty field southwest of Taylor Springs. It cut through the center of the village, inflicting high-end EF2 to low-end EF3 damage on residences, then widened into a pencil-like elephant trunk tornado as it entered Hillsboro itself. Many residences and small office buildings were demolished and large trucks were flipped over; one driver was killed when the tornado threw their vehicle into a strip mall. The tornado exited Hillsboro at 5:05 PM, toppling a small transmission tower as it continued its northeastward track.
The tornado grazed past the village of Wenonah at 5:11 PM; immediately afterward it attained its peak intensity; a mobile Doppler radar recorded wind speeds of 165 miles per hour at 5:13 PM, placing the tornado on the very threshold of the EF3 and EF4 categories. As the greatest damage recorded was high-end EF3 level, the tornado was not rated EF4. Abruptly, at 5:18 PM, the tornado shifted from a northeastward to a northwestward track and approached the unincorporated community of Clarksdale, weakening to EF2 intensity as it crossed through the center of the region. It re-intensified to EF3 intensity as it impacted Kincaid, Illinois at 5:37 PM, demolishing around 25 more residences and killing one person, then weakened as it continued northwest over empty fields, roping out and dissipating at 5:49 PM.
Description and structure
While the tornado was responsible for only two fatalities, nearly 400 people were injured. Emergency response was delayed by the significant flooding that occurred in the area due to record-breaking rainfall, and as such many victims were forced to wait several hours for assistance. The tornado also caused a power outage to nearly the entirety of Hillsboro, effectively paralyzing the city for three days.
The tornado victims were largely overlooked by the state and federal government in the aftermath of the far deadlier EF4 Anderson tornado that occurred on the same day.
Three hours after the Hillsboro tornado, Clarkson and Kincaid would again be struck by a high-end EF2 tornado.