Powerful Video Images Reveal Path of Last Year's Fairdale Tornado

Powerful Video Images Reveal Path of Last Year’s Fairdale Tornado


NIU geographers have developed an interactive map—with links to stunning videos and photos—showing the 30-mile path of the April 9, 2015 tornado that devastated the community of Fairdale, about 20 miles northwest of DeKalb.

The map provides links to 14 photos and 18 videos of the twister, captured along its route by storm chasers and average folks who happened to be nearby.

“We wanted to tell the story of the Fairdale tornado from multiple perspectives,” said Walker Ashley, an NIU professor of meteorology in the Department of Geography. He and Stephen Strader, a geography Ph.D. candidate, compiled the interactive map. Their own tornado photographs and Ashley’s video footage are included in the map links.

“I’m amazed at the amount of imagery that was captured by locals and storm chasers,” Ashley said. “You can even hear the tornado in several of the videos.”

The morning after the April 9, 2015 tornado that devastated the small community of Fairdale, Ill. Photo courtesy of Stephen Strader.

Ashley said they made the map for a presentation at a severe storms conference held last week.

Scientists have been working for decades to better understand how and why tornadoes form. Ashley said rain, hail, haze, darkness and other factors often make it difficult to capture clear images of twisters, but the Fairdale tornado was an exception.

“This was a naked storm, in a sense, with its features on display,” Ashley said.  “From the perspective of a meteorologist, you can see theories in textbooks coming to life.”

SOURCE: NIU Newsroom