Terrifying Home Video Captures Twister Leveling an Illinois Neighborhood

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 22 2013 10:28 AM

This Is What It Looks Like When a Twister Levels Your Neighborhood in Seconds

At least 11 tornadoes touched down in Illinois this past Sunday, claiming a half dozen lives and destroying thousands of homes in the process. Among the hardest hit communities was that of Washington, located about a two-and-a-half-hour drive southwest of Chicago. Local officials there estimate that nearly 1,500 homes either suffered major damage or were completely destroyed by the EF-4 twister that tore through town, peaking at 190 mph and remaining on the ground for an estimated 46 miles, according to the National Weather Service.

Those are just numbers, however. To get a better feel of the sheer power and devastation caused by the storm we have the video above, captured by Marc Wells, who took shelter inside his house as the twister approached and then reemerged, only moments later, to find his home destroyed and his neighborhood almost entirely leveled in the short time he was inside.

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As shocking as the video is, the audio is more terrifying. You can hear not only the storm's power, but also the terror in the voice of both Wells and his oldest daughter Josie, particularly during the middle section of the clip during which the screen goes completely black. Thankfully, both Wells and his daughter were unharmed. Others in the state weren't so lucky. The death toll from Sunday's storms currently stands at six, the highest tornado-related tally for the state on a single November day.

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(h/t to Gawker for spotting the video)

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.