City Cast

Why Chicago Isn't Safe From Tornadoes

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on August 3
Workers clear branches after storms in Stickney, Illinois, July 12

Workers clear branches after storms in Stickney July 12. (Trent Sprague / Tribune / Getty)

Illinois has had the most tornadoes in the country so far in 2023 — more than 100, according to the National Weather Service.

That’s not super unusual: Illinois usually ranks in the top 10. But an early start to tornado season in March — nearly 40 in a day — gave us a boost.

Tornado Season Longer, and “Tornado Alley” Shifting

Most common from April to June, we’re increasingly seeing tornadoes in the region during the offseason, according to the National Weather Service.

Tornado activity is up across the mid-South and Midwest, Northern Illinois University meteorology professor Victor Gensini told Axios. Climate change is likely playing a role, but research about how is in its infancy.

Chicago isn’t Safe from Tornadoes

How Can We Stay Safe?

In Chicago, sirens go off for three consecutive minutes when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning, which means a tornado has been spotted. Your phone will also probably alert you about the threat. Experts advise taking shelter immediately inside:

  • Away from windows and glass
  • On the ground floor (e.g., basement, bathroom, closet)
  • Under sturdy furniture
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