Severe weather season off to an active start

Severe weather season made a bold entrance in the Midwest this year and the potential for more dangerous storms lingers.

Frequent rains have delayed planting in some areas. Storms have damaged farm buildings and equipment, and high winds have created challenges for spring herbicide applications.

As of April 24, Illinois had had 42 tornadoes, 127 hail events (greater than 1 inch) and 95 severe wind events, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

Ed Shimon, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Lincoln, told FarmWeek those statistics mostly came from two storms in February, two in March and three so far in April.

“Forty-two tornadoes total in Illinois already is pretty high,” he said. “Over the last 30 years, the running average in Illinois is about 56 per year.”

He said the active pattern is following the path of 2023 when Illinois had 123 tornados, the most of any state in the country.

Shimon pointed out the storm systems have been widespread with tornadic activity recorded in the southern, central and northern portions of the state.

“Storms follow the jet stream and the way the jet stream is buckled in the west and kind of lifting up to the northeast through Illinois on a pretty frequent basis this spring has given us more frequent severe weather,” he said.

There was a preliminary count of 68 severe hail reports across the state in March alone, with another 30 to 40 this month, as of April 22, State Climatologist Trent Ford told the RFD Radio Network.

The 10-day outlook is a bit milder but favors warmer than average temperatures and slightly above normal precipitation. There was potential for torrential downpours over the weekend, according to forecasts as of press time.

“When you have a really warm air mass in the April and early May time frame, there is always potential for severe weather when a storm does develop. So people need to be weather aware for sure,” Shimon said.

There is potential for severe weather year-round, but the most reports come in during April, May and June, which is why that period is commonly referred to as severe weather season in the Midwest, he added.

• This story was distributed through a cooperative project between Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Press Association. For more food and farming news, visit