Keli Pirtle, NOAA Public Affairs, Noon CST, March 17, 2015

NORMAN, Okla. During a month when severe weather typically strikes, this March has been unusually quiet, with no tornado or severe thunderstorm watches issued by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center so far. And, National Weather Service forecasters see no sign of dramatic change for the next week at least.

“We are in uncharted territory with respect to lack of severe weather”, said Greg Carbin, SPC’s warning coordination meteorologist. “This has never happened in the record of SPC watches dating back to 1970.”

Since the beginning of 2015, the SPC has issued only four tornado watches and no severe thunderstorm watches, which is less than 10 percent of the typical number of 52 tornado watches issued by mid-March. The approximately 20 tornadoes reported since January 1 is well below the 10-year average of 130 for that time period.

There is no one clear reason to explain the lack of tornadoes, Carbin said. “We’re in a persistent pattern that suppresses severe weather, and the right ingredients — moisture, instability, and lift — have not been brought together in any consistent way so far this year.”

Forecasters expect a change soon, however. April and May are typically the busiest months for severe weather and tornadoes. Patterns can change in a few days, Carbin said, and it’s important to be prepared for severe weather when it occurs.

Analysis of the ten lowest and ten highest watch count years through the middle of March reveals little correlation to the subsequent number of tornadoes through the end of June. For example, early 2012 was particularly active with 77 watches issued through mid-March. The subsequent period through the end of June was unusually quiet for tornadoes with about 130 fewer EF1 and stronger tornadoes occurring than what would normally be expected. On the other hand, 1984, with a relatively low watch count of 28 through mid-March, became more active and by late June had about 100 EF1 and stronger tornadoes above the long-term mean of 285.


Preparing for severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and floods will not only benefit you during the spring and summer months, but all year round. In fact, almost half of all tornadoes reported in Illinois the past three years (2012-14) have occurred in fall or winter! We typically see the “peak” of severe weather season from April through June; however recent weather events have proven that we need to be “Weather Ready” in Illinois the entire year.

Illinois Tornado Facts

  • Illinois ranks fifth in the United States for the most tornadoes per square mile.
  • The majority of Illinois tornadoes have occurred between April 1 and June 30 and between the hours of 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. However, tornadoes have occurred every month of the year at all hours of the day.
  • Nearly 30 percent of all tornadoes in Illinois occur after dark.
  • There is an average of 47 tornadoes each year in Illinois.
  • There were 48 tornadoes reported in Illinois during 2014, which resulted in two injuries and nearly $5 million in damage to homes and crops

In Illinois, since 1950:

  • 76 percent of tornadoes have been weak with wind less than 110 mph,
  • 22 percent of tornadoes have been strong with wind between 110-167 mph,
  • 2 percent of tornadoes have been violent with wind greater than 167 mph.
  • Two violent tornadoes occurred on November 17, 2013; one in Washington and one in New Minden.

The chances of being affected by a tornado may seem small, but if you are in a threatened area, act QUICKLY when the threat is confirmed.

See our Staying Informed pages on how to keep informed about severe weather.

McHenry County Emergency Management is proud to announce the 2015 Severe Weather Spotter Class brought to you in cooperation with the National Weather Service.
Severe storm spotters are a vital part of the warning process! The spotter training class is designed for people new to severe storm spotting, as well as those that need refresher training.

Class will cover:
– Basics of thunderstorm development
– Fundamentals of storm structure
– Identifying potential severe weather features
– Information to report
– How to report information
– Basic severe weather safety

Weather Spotter’s Field Guide available here:

Please note the location change for this year!

Space is limited and registration is required to attend.


Printable 2015 Spotter Class Flyer

Weather-Ready Action of the Month: Resolve to stay alert to dangerous weather! Make sure Wireless Emergency Alerts are enabled on your mobile phone. These alerts can save your life! If you haven’t turned them off, great! You’re already weather-ready! If you know you turned them off in the past or aren’t sure, go into your phone’s settings and check your notifications to make sure these alerts are turned on.

More information about Wireless alerts is available here:

For more ways to stay informed check out “Staying INFORMED

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region V Press Release

CHICAGO – With the holidays fast approaching, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region V office encourages everyone to consider giving gifts that will help protect their family members and friends during a future emergency.

“A gift to help prepare for emergencies could be life-saving for friends and family,” said FEMA Region V acting regional administrator, Janet Odeshoo. “These gift ideas provide a great starting point for being prepared for an emergency or disaster.”

Supplies for an emergency preparedness kit can make unique—and potentially life-saving—holiday gifts, such as:

  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert.
  • A flashlight with extra batteries.
  • Solar-powered cell phone charger.
  • Smoke detector and/or carbon monoxide detectors.
  • First aid kit.
  • Fire extinguisher and fire escape ladder.
  • Enrollment in a CPR or first aid class.
  • Books, coloring books, crayons and board games for the kids, in case the power goes out.
  • Personal hygiene comfort kit, including shampoo, body wash, wash cloth, hairbrush, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant.
  • A waterproof pouch or backpack containing any of the above items, or with such things as a rain poncho, moist towelettes, work gloves, batteries, duct tape, whistle, food bars, etc.

Holiday shoppers might also consider giving a winter car kit, equipped with a shovel, ice scraper, emergency flares, fluorescent distress flags and jumper cables. For animal lovers, a pet disaster kit with emergency food, bottled water, toys and a leash is also a good gift.

The gift of preparedness might just save the life of a friend or family member. For more information, preparedness tips or other gift ideas, visit

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Follow FEMA online at,, and Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate’s activities at The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

Original FEMA Press Release

As cold and snow begin in earnest across Illinois and Indiana, the National Weather Service, FEMA, IEMA, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Illinois and Indiana State Police, Illinois and Indiana Departments of Transportation and American Red Cross are encouraging everyone to begin preparing now for the cold and snowy months of winter. Let’s do our part to lead us toward a Weather Ready Nation.

The Chicago National Weather Service office will issue daily Public Information Statements (PNS) that will contain the following information:

Monday: Winter Hazards
Tuesday: Outdoor Safety
Wednesday: Winter Preparedness
Thursday: Winter Fire Safety
Friday: Winter Weather Travel Safety
Saturday: Winter Weather Reporting

Information will be on NOAA Radio, NWS websites, and NWS Facebook/Twitter pages.

Due to 2014 outbreak in West Africa and first confirmed case and fatality in the US, Ebola is getting a lot of news coverage. Below you will find links to various resources available from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as information from the McHenry County Department of Health regarding the Ebola Virus Disease.

For Individuals

For Health Care Providers

CDC Travel Advisories

Visit McHenry County Department of Health for more information

Just over the past weekend McHenry County experienced one of the first severe thunderstorms for this severe weather season. While the biggest impact from this weekend’s storm was hail, it could have been a lot more devastating.

It is almost as if Mother Nature was reminding us that severe weather is a very real danger and gave us one more chance to better prepare as individuals and as a community.

There are many things that we can do as individuals. If you already have an emergency kit and an emergency plan, this a great time to review your plan, update contact information and check expiration dates on your emergency kit supplies.

If you don’t have a plan and kit just yet, there is no better time than now to get started! It is much easier then you think! First, make a family emergency plan, then gather some basic emergency supplies and make sure that your family knows who to call if something happens.

Templates for a family emergency plan, emergency kit checklist and printable contact cards are all available on, your emergency information portal for McHenry County.

Being prepared as a family and as an individual is great, but we will only have true strength if our whole community is prepared. “Whole community means everyone in a community needs to be prepared for disasters, not just emergency response agencies” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “Individuals, families, businesses, schools, faith-based groups and other community organizations should develop and practice emergency plans that address the needs of everyone in our community. This should include senior citizens, children, those with health concerns or disabilities, non-English speaking residents and others.”

Take a moment to discuss emergency preparedness at home, work, school and every other group that is part of your daily life. Knowing what to do when disaster strikes, no matter where you are, saves lives.

Don’t forget your friends, neighbors, elderly and individuals with functional needs. These vulnerable populations are usually more severely impacted when disaster strikes, so take a moment to find out if they have a plan and make sure that your community has included all those groups and individuals in the emergency planning.

As we move in to the calendar spring, rapid increase in temperatures is likely to cause sudden snow melt that may result in flooding.

If you live in a flood prone area, now is the time to prepare for the flood season!

First step is to review your insurance coverage. Only flood insurance covers flooding. If you don’t have flood insurance, call your local insurance agent or 1-800-720-1090 to reach specialists with the National Flood Insurance Program.

If you anticipate that you will be needing sandbags, sand, water pumps or generators, take some time and check your sand and sandbag supplies and make sure that your pumps and generators are still in working order. If you are on well water, make sure that you have enough drinking water on hand.

For more tips like these, check out the “Flooding” section of this website where you can find tips on what to do before, during and after the flood as well as videos and instructions on correct sandbagging techniques.

You can also monitor the real time water levels as well as 7-day trends for some of the major river and creek gauges in the county.


Are you ready? Is your family prepared for when the disaster strikes?

Week of March 2nd to the 8th is the national Severe Weather Preparedness Week. For those that have their emergency kits and emergency plans already, this a great time to review you plan, update contact information and check expiration dates on your emergency kit supplies.

If you don’t have a plan yet, there is no better time than now to get started! It is much easier then you think! First, make a family emergency plan. Start with this simple form. Then, gather some basic emergency supplies. You can use this easy check list to get you started. Make sure that your family knows who to call if something happens. Use these wallet-sized emergency contact cards.

Three simple steps and you are well on the way to being better prepared.

For even more ideas visit, and

Just as a reminder how serious severe weather can be, here is video of a train derailment that was caused by a tornado, just couple of years go near Harvard, IL.

StormReady County!

Live Weather Conditions

McHenry County Government Center, Woodstock, IL
Temp: 38.5 F (3.6 C) (3.6)
Humidity: 90%
Wind: From the WSW at 8.1 MPH Gusting to 14.4 MPH
Station: KILWOODS11
Updated:March 20, 3:14 AM CDT
local forecast

Rivers and Streams – Live Data

Surface Water Levels for McHenry County
Site Name Gage Height (ft) Flood Stage (ft)

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