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Central Illinois tornadoes: 22 twisters reported in rare outbreak

CNN logo CNN 12/3/2018 By Theresa Waldrop and Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN
a horse with a mountain in the background © Andrew Pritchard

Central Illinois is coping with damage and injuries after a rare blitz of tornadoes Saturday, when 22 twisters were reported to the National Weather Service.

Hardest hit was the town of Taylorville, about 30 miles southeast of the capital of Springfield. Storm winds wrecked houses, downed power lines and pulled trees up by the roots.

"It's a miracle no one was killed in the tragedy of these tornadoes," said Gov. Bruce Rauner, who toured the area on Sunday.

At least three people are being treated for major injuries at Memorial Hospital in Springfield and 18 more suffered minor injuries, Rauner said. The governor activated Illinois' State of Emergency Operations Center.

Rescuers pulled people from homes damaged by the twisters, Taylorville Fire Department Chief Mike Crews said. Otherwise, no deaths have been reported.

Illinois has an average of 47 tornadoes a year, not including December, which doesn't have an average, said CNN Meteorologist Allison Chinchar, speaking of the rarity of Saturday's twister cluster. May is the peak month, with an average of 15 tornadoes.

"Almost everything set up for the perfect conditions" for the outbreak, Chinchar said, as a strong cold front pushed through.

In Butler, south of Springfield, Hannah Fogle tweeted two videos of a funnel cloud.

Taylorville neighbors go through the debris after the storm. © Raquel Martin/WCIA Taylorville neighbors go through the debris after the storm.

A tornado mainly went through the countryside, she said. "I know of one house that had major damage," she added.

The National Weather Service sent out survey teams Sunday to analyze the damage, and said the exact number of tornadoes and the amount of damage wouldn't be determined until these are completed.

More than 2,000 people remained without power in Taylorville, according to Illinois electric and gas delivery company Ameren and CTI Fiber Network.

Meanwhile, authorities are trying to determine if damage to a naval base in Georgia was caused by a thunderstorm or tornado.

Severe weather impacted Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay around 3 p.m. Sunday, injuring at least two people, Assistant Public Affairs Officer Chris Tucker said.

There was some damage to a pier, power poles were knocked down and at least one truck flipped over.

CNN's Amanda Jackson and Deanna Hackney contributed to this report.

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