An Indiana man has been charged with stealing money from Grubsteakers, the Illinois 64 restaurant destroyed by the April 9 tornado that ripped through the area.

Michael G. McDonald, 67, of Whiting, Ind, was arrested Oct. 21, by Rochelle Police on an Ogle County warrant.

According to a news release, the arrest resulted from an investigation into theft of money from the former Grubsteakers restaurant.

The investigation found that McDonald was a patron inside Grubsteakers when the tornado struck; he is accused of stealing approximately $1,000 from the cash register.

Big Storm Anniversaries Highlight Nature's Wonder

Aug 26, 2015

This is a big week in meteorological history. Friday is the 25th anniversary of the Plainfield tornado that killed 29 people…and it’s 10 years since hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans.

College of DuPage Meteorology professor Paul Sirvatka says researchers are still learning from the severe weather events. He says they sent a message that goes beyond the science of severe weather.

People from near and far opened their hearts…and their wallets…to help the Warren County town of Cameron replace its tornado warning siren, which was destroyed during last month’s tornado.

Cameron Fire Chief Roger Watson says $26,000 in donations came in from businesses, service groups, and individuals largely through word-of-mouth.


According to the NOAA Storm Prediction Center, Illinois ranks fourth in the nation in the number of tornado reports in 2015.

Is this surprising news?

State climatologist Jim Angel says Illinois is usually in the top ten, but this ranking is a bit high compared to previous years at this time.

Northern Illinois experienced and EF-4 in April. That’s out of 64 reports.

Small Illinois Town Loses Siren To Twister

Jul 23, 2015
T.J. Carson / WIUM

The small Warren County town of Cameron will need to replace the tool that helped save lives during last week’s tornado.     

The town’s tornado siren was destroyed by the EF-2 twister.

Cameron Fire Department Captain Alan Otten says it’s essential to replace the warning system.

“We have a tornado now, now you’re literally going to have guys driving around in front of the storm here, just having to blast sirens and scream.  And maybe go door-to-door or whatever to tell people to run for cover.”


Coal City residents are still rebuilding and cleaning up one month after powerful storms and tornadoes ripped through the small village about an hour south of Chicago.

Glenn Root says the tarps on his roof aren’t enough to keep the damage at bay.

“You know a little hole coming through the top of the ceiling roof is just expanding and expanding every time it rains,” Root said. “And we got so much rain the last three weeks that it’s just messing up my kitchen walls more.”

Ed Essary lost the house he lived in for 39 years.

T.J. Carson / WIUM

The National Weather Service believes the tornado that struck Cameron July 16 was EF-2 storm with wind speeds of around 125 miles per hour.

Donna Dubberke, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, said the agency looked at what was damaged during the storm. She said that includes buildings, tree, and power lines.

“The most compelling evidence there [in Cameron] is there were several homes, not many, but several homes that did have the roofs almost completely removed, and that, depending on the construction, is consistent with winds in the 110 to 130 mph range,” Dubberke said.

Andrew Epstein / WNIJ

Illinois residents affected by last month's tornados in Lee and Grundy counties will get extra time to file state tax returns. 

Governor Bruce Rauner's office said Wednesday the deadline to file tax returns and make payments will be Dec. 31. He says that will allow residents to recover from the storms and file their returns on time.

Taxpayers who mail their returns and payments should write “Tornado June 2015” in red ink on the outside of the envelope and at the top of each page. Those filing electronically should check the Illinois Department of Revenue website.

Woodhaven Lakes To Reopen After Tornado Devastation

Jun 26, 2015

Woodhaven Lakes will reopen tomorrow after a tornado touched down Monday causing damage and at least five injuries.

The campground will be open at 8 a.m. to all property owners with some conditions. This decision was made by Woodhaven Lakes management based on the progress that has been made in the past several days.

There are still electrical, debris and traffic and parking concerns according to a statement from Doug Erbes, Sublette Fire Department Chief.

Coal City Clean-up 

More Severe Weather To Come For Northern Illinois

Jun 24, 2015
Andrew Epstein / WNIJ

A new weather system could bring as much as five inches of rain to northern Illinois through today. That’s according to NIU meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste. 

Sebenste says the incoming weather won’t be as bad as Monday’s storms, but it could be bad enough to yield another small tornado along the I-88 corridor.

The ground is still pretty saturated from Monday’s storms. Sebenste recommends making sure your sump pump and accessories are fully functioning and to heed any weather-related warnings.