UPDATE: The tornado watch that had been issued until midnight for Lorain County has been canceled.
A high wind warning is in effective until 7 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.
As a cold front passes through the area, winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts between 50 and 60 mph are expected. The front will reach northeast Ohio between 8 and 10 p.m., according to the weather service.
When it is safe to do so, share photos of the storm and any damage by posting them to the Chronicle-Telegram’s Facebook wall, posting to Instagram or Twitter using #LoCoWx, or emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier in the evening, storms packing strong winds and the potential for tornadoes moved through Ohio. These storms produced several confirmed tornadoes in parts of Illinois and Indiana.
Severe weather has erupted over IL and is moving E towards IN and OH. Tornadoes, 1″ hail, & damaging wind have been reported.#clewx
— NWS Cleveland (@NWSCLE) November 17, 2013
According to the National Weather Services’ website, a total of 59 tornadoes had struck Sunday afternoon, the bulk of them in Illinois. But meteorologist Matt Friedlein said the total might fall because emergency workers, tornado spotters and others often report the same tornado.
Still, when the weather service was issuing its warning that severe weather was bearing down on the Midwest, officials said the last such warning issued in November came in 2005, and the result was an outbreak of 49 tornadoes.
The storm also followed dire warnings by the weather service that the storm was simply moving too fast for people to wait until they saw it to get ready.
“Our primary message is this is a dangerous weather system that has the potential to be extremely deadly and destructive,” said Laura Furgione, deputy director of the National Weather Service National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Get ready now.”
In fact, the weather service said officials confirmed that a tornado touched down just before 11 a.m. near the central Illinois community of East Peoria, about 150 miles southwest of Chicago, but authorities did not immediately have damage or injury reports. Within an hour, the weather service said that tornadoes had touched down in Washington, Metamora, Morton and other central Illinois communities, though officials could not say whether it was one tornado touching down or several.
“This is a very dangerous situation,” said Russell Schneider, director of the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center. “Approximately 53 million in 10 states are at significant risk for thunderstorms and tornadoes.”
The potential severity of the storm this late in the season also carries the risk of surprise.
“People can fall into complacency because they don’t see severe weather and tornadoes, but we do stress that they should keep a vigilant eye on the weather and have a means to hear a tornado warning because things can change very quickly,” said Matt Friedlein, a weather service meteorologist.
Friedlein said that such strong storms are rare this late in the year because there usually isn’t enough heat from the sun to sustain the thunderstorms. But he said temperatures Sunday reached into the 60s and 70s, which he said is warm enough to help produce severe weather when it is coupled with winds, which are typically stronger this time of year than in the summer.
“You don’t need temperatures in the 80s and 90s to produce severe weather (because) the strong winds compensate for the lack of heating,” he said. “That sets the stage for what we call wind shear, which may produce tornadoes.”
He also said that the tornadoes this time a year happen more often than people might realize, pointing to a twister that hit the Rockford, Ill., area in November 2010.