Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Anniversary of 1928 Rockford Tornado

September 14th marks the anniversary of the deadly tornado that tore through southeast Rockford back in 1928 -- 88 years ago. It is a storm that will never be forgotten in the city's history. It developed near the southern city limits of Rockford, which had a population of 85,000 at the time. It moved at roughly 40 MPH to the northeast, affecting the southeastern portion of the city for a distance of 2.25 miles, affecting 30 city blocks. The most noteworthy piece of damage occurred when the tornado barreled into a three-story chair factory in which 114 men were working at 3:22 PM. The building took a direct hit, but only 8 of the factory's employees died. The tornado continued to move northeast, cutting a swath of damage of 300 feet through areas of factories and residencies.
Around this time, four teenage boys were quickly walking home to avoid the storm. A garage roof came hurtling through air, instantly killing two of them. A third later died. The storm's path of destruction increased to 400 feet as it shattered windows, ripped apart porches, uprooted numerous trees, and narrowly missed several schools. It did cause considerable damage to other large factories, destroying walls. The tornado moved through a section of new homes, but the damage wasn't extreme. It then moved away from the city and entered an increasingly rural area east of downtown. It still partially demolished several farm buildings and uprooted many trees. The storm moved just north of Argyle, about one mile south of Poplar Grove, and caused some damage in Capron around 4 PM.

 The length of the twister's path in its entirety was roughly 25 miles. The width of the path reached a maximum of 500 feet. Nearly 200 buildings were damaged or destroyed, and the cost of the damages came out to be about $1.2 million. The tornado was rated an F4 on the Fujita Scale, which suggests winds upwards of 260 MPH. Roughly 100 people were injured in Rockford alone, with fourteen casualties recorded.

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