BARELY FOUR MONTHS after an EF-1 tornado swept the west side of Pana, an EF-2 tornado touched down causing damage to property and trees on the east side of Pana, Thursday afternoon, Feb. 20.
And just like on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, Thursday was a windy, unseasonably warm day. The tornado appears to have formed about 3 miles south of Pana, then took a northeasterly track across the sky.
This shows some damage to trees and a shed on the Dale Warren property near the intersection of East Sixth St. Road and Sportsman’s Club Road east of Pana.
A TORNADO IS blamed for this damage to the Sharon and Ron Morrell home on the northeast corner of E. 6th St. Road and Sportsman’s Club Road on Thursday, Feb. 20. The twister tore down the garage and damaged the roof of the home.
No Warning Siren Sounds Due To Lack Of Information
The wild winter weather of 2014 continued on Thursday, Feb. 20, when an F-2 tornado skipped across the southeastern sky of Pana, causing damage along its four-mile route. While the area was under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for the afternoon on Thursday, information concerning a Tornado Warning did not reach the communications center of the Pana Police Department until after the severe weather had passed.
Pana Police Chief Daniel Bland and Pana Emergency Coordinator Rod Bland said because of a power outage in Taylorville, some necessary information through the LEADS (Law Enforcement Agency Data System) communications lines did not reach Pana. When the information did arrive, the tornado warning was issued for northern Christian and southern Sangamon Counties. By the time information got to Pana, the storm had already passed.
“Usually, 911 will activate weather spotters when severe weather threatens,” Rod Bland said. “They did not ask for spotters. But we had a few men at the fire station who volunteered to go out when the thunderstorm hit.”
He said two spotters went south on Route 51 and went to the County Line Road where they turned around about 4:20 p.m. on Thursday. They were only parked momentarily when they decided to head back to Pana. They reported heavy rain and wind and said visibility was nearly zero. When they got back on the highway, they discovered the damage at the Elvers Machine Shop property and a power line down on the highway.
The storm then skipped down to the Warren’s Grove area (E. 6th St. Road and Sportsman’s Club Rd.). It touched down on the Warren property, taking out a shed and breaking trees. It continued on a northeast track and struck the home of Ron and Sharon Morrell on the top of the hill. It took off the garage of the home and damaged the roof as well. A nearby shed was also destroyed.
There was damage to the roof of the Monica Puckett home and the siding and roof of the Vivi Klingberg home as well. The storm destroyed a shed on the Jim Mizeur property, spreading debris across a frozen pond. The home of Jake Sinclair had its roof lifted up and set back down and the garage door blew out. Some sheds were damaged and another one destroyed on the John Holthaus farm across Illinois Route 16 about a half-mile east of the Rosebud Corner.
According to Rod Bland, the storm was over in a little less than 3 minutes, having traveled at an estimated 67 mph. An EF-2 tornado produces winds in excess of 120 mph.
“All we knew was there was a possibility of severe weather,” Police Chief Bland said. “With the LEADS line down, we did not get information from the National Weather Service. We do have a weather radio in the office, but it was not near the dispatcher’s area and they did not hear it. We have since moved the radio into the area where the dispatcher can hear it.”
Bland said the department can activate the storm siren when necessary. They do not need to be told or get permission from any other agency.
“When certain criteria are met, we (Pana) have the authority to sound the alarm,” Bland said. “It is not a situation where we have to get permission from another agency before we sound it.”
He said the information they had at 4:10 p.m. on Thursday wasn’t sufficient to warrant setting off the siren.
“Our information said the tornado warning was for northern Christian and southern Sangamon Counties,” he said. “There was no indication there was a tornado anywhere near Pana.”
While strong winds remained, the severe weather was out of the area by 4:25 p.m.
It was those strong winds which are blamed for a fire which destroyed a home at the corner of Fourth and State Streets on the west side of Pana. According to Fire Chief Bland, the wind caused a large tree branch to snap off and hit high voltage lines in the alley between Chestnut and State streets. There was a serve of power into the Janet and Dave Brown home at 300 South State which caused the house to fill with smoke at 6:04 p.m. The owners reported seeing a blue streak and light bulbs were blown out throughout the house. It also caused a water line to rupture under the house. Police Chief Bland said he arrived at the house a minute after the fire was reported and flames were shooting out of the house.
The fire chief said there was major damage to the home, including the front room and kitchen.
The storm caused power outages throughout the area, including for 4-1/2 hours on the west side of Pana due to the above incident. Both Blands said they had no reports of any injuries due to the storm in the area.