In battles where extreme weather gets pitted against vehicles of any kind — be they planes, trains, or automobiles — Mother Nature tends to win every time. As you can see from the above footage, this train vs. tornado incident filmed back in 2008 ended with Mother Nature racking up another intense victory.
The whole thing went down at the Union Pacific railroad near Harvard, Illinois, as an F3 tornado came whipping in at high speeds through several towns in the Prairie State, leaving an epic wake of destruction in its path.
The footage only shows less than a minute of the chaos, as a couple of freight train cars get blown off the track, before getting absolutely smashed by an incoming tanker. But, as the uploader of the video points out, the damage was much more extensive than that.
A large barn was destroyed and other buildings were severely damaged. Large trees were snapped or uprooted. The tornado reached its maximum intensity of EF3 at the northeast corner of Centerville road and Beaverton road. A two story farm house and garage were leveled and large trees were stripped of all branches. The tornado was about 100 yards wide through this area.
The train was moving at the time the tornado hit it…so as the main engine stopped…the remaining cars on the track continued along it and slammed into the front part of the train. This caused a few more cars to derail…including one containing hazardous materials that caused the evacuation of the town of Lawrence.
As the tornado moved east of Lawrence it once again started to weaken with some tree damage and shingles off of a few houses on the northeast side of town. It then ran along Oak Grove road for a stretch where it produced EF1 damage with a hardwood tree snapped at its base and knocked over an old…weakly structured barn with estimated winds around 100 mph. It then headed across farm fields and headed for hwy 14 where it damaged a metal barn and sheared a few trees. As it crossed highway 14 it flipped a semi-trailer and injured the driver at a truck stop weigh station.
Whoa. This severe weather ridiculousness is like something out of the movie Twister. Except it wasn’t a Hollywood production with green screen and special effects. This thing was the real deal. Absolutely terrifying.