No Rotation Detected in Storm that Ripped Through South Jacksonville

By Jeremy Coumbes on October 25, 2021 at 1:01pm

East Vandalia remains closed from Main Street to Hardin Avenue after the severe weather that tore through the area Sunday night.

At approximately 6:17 pm a storm caused severe damage down the entire length of Vandalia from South Diamond to Nichols Park in South Jacksonville which took the brunt of the storm. Multiple buildings and homes were damaged including one home on West Vandalia that had its roof completely torn off.

The west-facing overhead doors on the South Jacksonville Fire Department were blown in and onto multiple fire department vehicles. South Jacksonville Fire Chief Richard Evans Jr. says the Murrayville Fire Department responded with mutual aid to assist in responding to the scene due to the damage at the fire department.

Evans says the department was lucky as only minor damage was done to fire equipment and all units are still operable. Evans says several houses in the village sustained minor to complete roof damage.

The front of City Church on East Vandalia was ripped completely open and building damage was reported at the Circle K as well as areas surrounding the intersection of South Main and Vandalia.

A section of metal facade from the Circle K station was blown across the road and struck the side of Precious Jewelers breaking out a window and glass door. Businesses in the shopping center also sustained damage with windows broken out. Multiple vehicles reported broken windows in the area.

Nichols Park is closed today for clean-up efforts after several trees and power lines were knocked down by the storm making the main entrance to the park impassable.

Ameren Illinois is reported 20 customers are still without power as of noon, down from over 240 as of 6:30 am.

Morgan County Office of Emergency Management Director, Phil McCarty says the area was very lucky that there have been no injuries reported from the storm. He says according to the data collected so far, it appears the storm was not a tornado and it could have been much worse.

In the extensive conversations that I have had with the National Weather Service immediately following the event last night, and then again twice this morning, it really does not look like it was tornadic activity.

Judging by the damage created as well as the path, as well as researching very detailed radar images, it does not look like at that specific time there was rotation. That doesn’t downplay that there wasn’t significantly strong winds, but there was no rotation.

McCarty says his office has to look at the whole picture for the county when storms approach and the only warnings issued by the National Weather Service were for the northwestern portion of Morgan County. He says no emergency sirens were activated because, by the time the warning was issued, the storm cell was out of Chapin and moving north/northeast with no impact to Jacksonville.

He says any indication via radar or storm spotters at the time had the worst moving away from populated areas with siren capabilities.

The weather activity that created the damage in South Jacksonville was a downburst type, straight-line type wind environment, and even though it did create damage, it’s probably right on the edge of to the point of where we would activate the sirens.

We are very cautious of activating the sirens and don’t want to activate the sirens every time it storms so we don’t lose how important the warning is. So it’s a delicate balance. We could argue either way that yeah maybe we should have.

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t have a roof on your house, you’d have a strong argument, but I’d also have a strong argument that yes you may be right in this isolated incident, but I have to look at it as a whole. And you can’t always make a decision afterward. The information in the moment did not provide for activation of the sirens.”

The Village of South Jacksonville announced in a press release this morning, that clean-up efforts are still underway and residents are encouraged to move storm debris to the curb in front of their residences so the Street Department can get it picked up and hauled away. Residents should separate tree debris and trash/building debris.

Village officials say residents should also be cautious of outside contractors used for home repair/storm cleanup. Any concerns with contractors or building permits should be reported to Village Hall or the Police Department. Homeowners should contact their insurance company notifying them of storm damage.

If residents have emergency issues, please contact the Police Department at 217-245-9222. Residents with structural damage to their property are encouraged to call Village Hall at 217-245-4803. Power or gas issues should be reported to Ameren Illinois at 1-800-755-5000.