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Illinois battered by string of tornadoes amid changing climate patterns

The Midwestern state was hit by at least five tornadoes in the last week. 

At least five tornadoes touched down in north central Illinois this week, the National Weather Service confirmed, a sign of things to come as the total number of yearly tornadoes continues to climb. Initial damage surveys indicate at least seven possible tornado tracks south and west of Chicago.

On Monday, five people had to be rescued from buildings after a tornado hit Portland, Illinois. Later that evening the weather service also received reports of a tornado near Millington in Tuscola County. A few people were treated for minor injuries, local fire department officials told the Siginaw News.

Lt. Nick Doerfler of the Coal City Fire Protection District said that while there have not been any reports of serious injuries or fatalities, four people were taken to nearby hospitals for minor injuries sustained during the storm.

A new climate model suggests that the total number of yearly tornados will climb by 2080, but that the number of twisters will vary widely each year, Becky Oskin reported for the Live Science blog.

While a region of the Great Plains from northern Texas up through South Dakota has earned the moniker "Tornado Alley," a quick look at National Weather Service tornado-track maps reveals most of the eastern half of the US is also prone to tornados, Monitor reporter Pete Spotts writes.

The National Weather Service outside of Chicago confirmed Tuesday that it is sending two teams to assess damage across the state. Storm reports indicate that Coal City, Mendota, and Sublette had the most severe damage. Other locations include Harmon, Ottawa, Morris, and Braidwood to Momence.

Governor Bruce Rauner’s office confirmed that Illinois has activated the State of Emergency Operations Center to assist local responders if necessary.

The exact number of tornados that touched down, and their severity, is still to be confirmed.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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