A massive and violent weather system carved a swath of destruction through America's heartland this afternoon, terrorizing central Illinois with a barrage of tornadoes that reduced entire neighborhoods to rubble.
The towns of Washington and Pekin, Illinois, were among the hardest hit by the carnage, which began around noon local time.
Here's what you need to know about this overwhelming natural disaster.
2. At Least Five People Are Dead
ABC reports five confirmed deaths and nearly 40 injuries. The fatal victims include an elderly couple in Nashville, Illinois, a victim in Washington, Illinois, and two victims in Massac County.
2. Pictures of Incredible Destruction Flooded the Internet
Absolute destruction pic.twitter.com/xFvT45sSwM
— Alexandra Sutter (@Alexandra_WMBD) November 17, 2013
Pictures taken from towns across central Illinois and shared via social media show houses leveled and trees ripped out of the ground.
You can see more of these images here.
— Chris Khoury (@ChrisKhoury182) November 17, 2013
3. At Least 20 Tornadoes Struck Illinois
Lee Goldberg of ABC7 reported that 20 of the first 21 tornadoes that touched down in the Midwest today did so in Illinois.
Storm Chasers ran a live stream of the storm:
4. The Bears Game Was Suspended
The Chicago Bears game versus the Baltimore Ravens was suspended today toward the end of the first quarter as the central Illinois tornadoes headed north. Fans were sent home and told to take shelter, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The game later resumed.
5. This is NOT Supposed to Be Tornado Season
Who would've ever thought this would happen in November. #Climatechange
— Chicago Sports (@ChiTownSports) November 17, 2013
Because tornado season in central Illinois, and for much of the Midwest, ends in June, many have taken to Twitter to blame climate change for these erratic weather conditions.
— Josh Kamholz (@hoboMao) November 17, 2013