It’s supposed to be snow, clouds, and hail, mixes, but this one wasn’t really like that since it was severe weather.

Jessen Horst

December 10th of 2021 will be etched into memory as the date of another late-season tornado outbreak. Central Illinois was on the northern edge of an incredibly dangerous and deadly severe weather setup across the Ohio River Valley that produced 71 confirmed tornadoes. Two of those were EF-4 across portions of Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky. In total, 89 people died, a December record. 74 of them alone came from Kentucky. In Illinois, 6 people perished inside the Edwardsville Amazon warehouse when an EF-3 tornado struck that building.

Closer to home in Central Illinois, we thankfully didn’t have any fatalities, but we did see six confirmed tornadoes that evening. One tornado was an EF-1, but the other five were rated EF-2 by the National Weather Service.

And it was quite chaotic at that time and a little scary. I remember they were just praying, let’s just get through this. We did, and we did not know the damage that was all around us.

Jill Horst

One of the stronger EF-2s of the night was caught by our own Meteorologist Jacob Dickey as he was piloting the Stormtracker. This particular tornado had maximum winds up to 125 mph as it tore up buildings along an almost 16 mile stretch of Shelby, Moultrie, and Coles counties.

The Stormtracker was able to pick up the power flashes as the tornado struck an ag services plant and numerous buildings near the town of Gays. Even the Mayor of Gays found out about the tornado damage by watching our coverage. This tornado was on a collision course for Mattoon.

The Horst family lives on the edge of Mattoon and was within half a mile of the Windsor/Gays/Mattoon. Jill and her son Jessen stopped by to talk to us about their experience. It was a close call, they could actually feel the tornado, but thankfully, they didn’t sustain damage like nearby neighbors.

And we lost power and internet, so we were really just going off of the WCIA Weather App after that. I remember seeing him [Jacob] driving down the road and we’re like it’s coming, it’s coming

Jill Horst

They were, however, without power for 25 hours

As soon as we heard the tornado shaking the ground, then… it was really scary though

Jessen Horst

This experience really has inspired Jessen, so much so that we may have a future meteorologist on our hands! His mother Jill noticed that he would ask their Amazon Alexa what the winds were going to be like every day. Soon after that, it turned into an interest in weather. Jessen now will hop onto the radar app on his phone at recess to check if it will rain! He even came in and was a KidCaster after an event that was initially scary to him, and he was fantastic!