Authorities said least eight people were injured and at least 225 structures were damaged, many severely, from a tornado that tore through Naperville, Woodridge and Darien late Sunday. Meteorologists said the damage was consistent with an EF-3 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita scale, meaning it had wind speeds of 136 to 165 mph.
“We suspect it was one tornado,” said Matt Friedlein, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “We don’t know that for certain, but based on the nature of the information and what we know about the character of this event, that’s what we’re leaning toward.”
The weather service said it was the first significant tornado to hit the Chicago metropolitan area since 2015, when an EF-3 tornado ravaged Coal City, about 60 miles southwest of the city.
On the ground, signs of the tornado’s might were everywhere. A fence post was driven through a roof like a javelin. A backyard trampoline, metal frame and all, was wrapped around the branches of a tall tree. One car was flipped on its roof, while another nearby was so damaged it looked as though it had been bombed.
The tornado sirens began blaring in DuPage County at 10:48 p.m. Sunday, according to Woodridge police. The National Weather Service said emergency alerts also screeched on mobile devices in Naperville, Darien and Woodridge, with the goal of waking any sleepers.
When the tornado formed, it first hit Naperville about 11:10 p.m., in the area just south of 75th Street and Ranchview Drive in the southeast section of the town, according to Linda LaCloche, spokeswoman for the Naperville city manager’s office. Sixteen homes were deemed uninhabitable by city engineers, she said.
At least 125 damage reports came from Naperville alone, Schultz said.