Northern Illinois tornado kills at least two, injures 20

By Brendan O'Brien (Reuters) - At least two people were killed and 20 others injured when a powerful tornado rated as a rare EF-4 - the second highest intensity - ripped through a small northern Illinois town, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner said on Friday. The tornado destroyed dozens of houses and businesses on Thursday night as it swept through Fairdale, about 75 miles west of Chicago. "Our hearts and thoughts go out to those impacted by yesterday's storms," Rauner said in a statement. Geraldine Schultz, 67, and Jacklyn Klosa, 69, were killed in their Fairdale homes, the Chicago Tribune reported. The tornado was one of several twisters that storm spotters reported in DeKalb and Ogle counties when a dangerous storm system rolled through the Midwest on Thursday evening. The tornado that hit Fairdale was at least an EF-4, storms characterized by winds of 166 to 200 miles per hour, said meteorologist Patrick Marsh of the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center. EF-4 tornadoes account for about 1 percent of tornadoes. Two EF-4 tornadoes struck Illinois on Nov. 17, 2013, Marsh said. Storms that day killed six people in Illinois and caused severe damage to the town of Washington. Only 21 EF-4 tornadoes have hit Illinois since 1970. Rauner declared both counties state disaster areas and said on Friday several state agencies were supporting the residents and the cleanup effort. A few miles southwest of Fairdale, damage was also reported in and around Rochelle, Illinois, where crews rescued people from the basement of a restaurant, officials said. Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle said after the storm that his house and the home of relatives living nearby were among about 20 in Rochelle destroyed or significantly damaged. The sheriff said no one was taken to the hospital or reported missing. (Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Sandra Maler and Will Dunham)