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A rash of rare autumn storms tore through Illinois on Sunday, bringing rain, wind and tornadoes that killed six and leveled entire neighborhoods.

According to the Chicago Tribune:

“…In southern Illinois, severe weather decimated farms, killing at least five people, including an elderly brother and sister, when a tornado barreled through their house. Farther north, near Peoria, a tornado flattened large swaths of Washington, killing at least one person and sending about 50 others to local hospitals.

Emergency crews rushed to search the debris-filled fields as night fell and temperatures dropped, rummaging through piles of wood that used to be homes to find survivors and help the newly homeless seek shelter.

The winds that leveled neighborhoods in southern Illinois are far and few in between. But meteorologists had predicted the violent storms a day before.

“Weather doesn’t get more extreme than this in Illinois very often,” said Matt Friedlein, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

The storms exploded over Illinois when gusting winter jet streams from the northwest collided with the unusually warm and moist air that had arrived Saturday.

“You’ve got wintertime winds in the atmosphere above summertime moisture,” Friedlein said. “While unusual, when that happens, you’re going to have very strong storms that move very quickly.”

The local hospitals did treat victims with head injuries, broken bones, cuts and bruises, but considering how quickly the storms moved in and how powerful they were, authorities are relieved that the number of those injured was low.

Sara Sparkman, a spokeswoman with the Tazewell County Emergency Management Agency, credited the county’s early warning system for reducing the toll. “We hope that contributed to the low injuries that we are having,” she said.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Illinois at this time.

SOURCE: Chicago Tribune | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty