Tornadoes strike north of Elburn

By on August 27, 2009

Landscape scathed, but no one hurt
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Nancy Nelson was in her laundry room next to the kitchen at about 6 p.m. on Aug. 19. Elburn’s emergency sirens had sounded earlier and heavy rain was coming down, so she shut all the windows in the house except one in the kitchen. Suddenly she felt as though all the air was being sucked out of the room.

“I just headed straight for the basement,” said Nelson, who lives about a mile north of Route 38 on Route 47.

Right after going into the basement, Nelson heard a loud crack and crunch.

“I thought the house would be gone, for sure,” she said.

What she heard was a 30-year-old locust tree trunk breaking and falling on the roof of the house, caused by a 105-mph tornado.

When she came upstairs after the storm subsided, she was relieved the damage was not worse.

“I feel like we had a guardian angel,” Nelson said.

In the Nelson’s yard, many tree tops were gone, branches and leaves covered the grass and several 30- to 40-foot spruce trees were uprooted.

“It amazed me, because they have roots that are six or seven feet long,” Nelson said.

Nelson’s husband, Randy, was driving home from playing golf just after 6 p.m. and did not know a tornado had struck until just before he arrived at his house and saw a tree on the side of Route 47 that was “twisted like a pretzel.” When he turned into his driveway, downed trees and branches blocked his access.

Despite the extensive tree damage at the Nelson’s, flowers still flourished in a garden that was untouched by the tornado, even though it was right next to a tree that was destroyed by the storm.

“It was kind of freaky,” Nancy said.

Cornfields in the tornadoes’ paths looked as though a herd of buffalo had tromped through them. Just north of the Nelson’s house, a vehicle parked in a driveway at 3N498 Route 47 was destroyed and two others were severely damaged, struck by debris during the tornado. Their owner, Frank Hudkins, said he had to have the vehicles towed from his property. He noted that all that was left of a farmer’s wagon next door were the wheels.

Hudkins said he was inside at 6 p.m. when he saw a huge tree trunk and debris fly south past his front window. When he looked out the back window, branches were blowing in the opposite direction. He said the event was so brief he did not have time to worry.
“It didn’t last more than two or three minutes,” Hudkins said.

Hudkins said he feels lucky, too.

“Nobody got hurt, and with all the trees falling, nothing hit the house.”

At the house across the street from Hudkins’, a fallen tree left a huge, gaping hole in the roof. The Nelsons’ roof was intact other than shingle damage, but the couple still does not know the extent of destruction to trees on their 10-acre property, since some areas of the lot are densely wooded. The Nelsons’ property is for sale, and the property damage likely will be a major setback in trying to sell it, they said.

Assistant Fire Chief Tate Haley said the Elburn & Countryside Fire Department received an alert from the Kane County emergency dispatch center of a possible circular storm coming through Elburn just before 6 p.m. So, he got in his truck and started heading north from downtown Elburn on Route 47; about a mile past Route 38 he began to see debris and downed trees from the tornado that had just struck.

“I must have been right behind it,” Haley said.

A falling tree brought electrical wires to the ground during the storm at one home; firefighters monitored the site for safety until ComEd arrived to conduct repairs, Haley said.

National Weather Service
meteorologists confirmed that a
tornado occurred at about
6 p.m. on Aug. 19,
approximately one mile north of Elburn. The tornado was 40 yards wide at its widest point, with a
one-mile-long path. The peak wind associated with the tornado was
105 mph.

The National Weather Service also reported that a second tornado occurred two to three miles north
of Elburn in Lily Lake at about
the same time. The path of this
tornado was estimated at
1.5 miles long
30 yards wide.