NO ONE INJURED AS TORNADO LEVELS
MANUFACTURING PLANT IN ILLINOIS;
15, 2004 — A powerful tornado severely damaged a manufacturing plant
in Roanoke, Ill., Tuesday, but quick action by management and employees
to implement a pre-defined storm plan saved the lives of the 120-plus
employees inside. (Click NOAA image for larger view of the damage
that an F3 tornado can cause to a home. Preliminary reports from the NOAA
National Weather Service indicate that the Roanoke, Ill., tornado may
have been greater than an F3, which means winds in excess of 206 mph.
All but a few parts of the outer and inner walls were toppled or removed
from this house in Moore, Okla., on May 3, 1999. For a well-built home,
any removal of inner walls constitutes F3 damage, so this site was rated
high-end F3. Click here for
high resolution version, which is a large file. Please credit “NOAA.”)
The plant was monitoring NOAA All-Hazards Radio and noted the severe thunderstorm warning issued at 3:29 p.m. EDT. The plant manager activated plant spotters, who noted a possible tornado approximately two miles west of the plant and radioed the office to implement the next stage of the tornado plan by requesting that all employees enter designated shelters—three concrete reinforced above-ground storm shelters that also serve as rest rooms. The spotters themselves then noted the large tornado approaching and took shelter.
Employees said the first sign of the tornado’s arrival at the plant was cars being blown from the parking lot into the side of the building. Steel beams weighing up to a ton were pulled into the vortex like match sticks, according to some employees’ accounts. When the tornado passed, many employees’ cars were found piled into the collapsed building.
“Our forecasters around the country put in thousands of hours each year giving presentations on severe weather and the correct actions to take when severe weather hits,” Looney said. “We emphasize the need to create an action plan and to rehearse that plan until everyone is familiar with it. At Parsons, a drill was conducted earlier this year so that employees would know what action to take when needed, and it worked. I hate to think of what might have happened if Parsons Manufacturing had not had a plan. There would have been more grisly tasks than pulling cars out of the building.”
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nationís coastal and marine resources. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.