20 years after tornado, former Urbana cops recall a shift for the ages

Jim Page and Mike Metzler can tell you exactly what they were doing 20 years ago Tuesday.

How do they remember so clearly?

Because on the evening of April 19, 1996, all hell broke loose.

Both worked for the Urbana police department. Page had been at a training session all day that Friday. Metzler's day had started in the wee hours with an unscheduled work task.

Top of the morning, April 18, 2016

These days, SCOTT KOENEMAN is assistant dean of libraries for advancement at the University of Illinois.

On Friday evening, April 19, 1996, Koeneman was city editor at The News-Gazette, a position he'd held about a year at that point. It was his job to assign and supervise reporters and coordinate the paper's news report.

Freeze warning issued for Tuesday

A freeze warning has been issued for all of East Central Illinois except Ford and Iroquois counties from 12 a..m to 9 a.m. Tuesday.  Temperatures could dip into mid 20s.  So bring your plants and pets inside if you can, and wear warm clothes if you're outside at night.

Updated: freeze watch, warning issued for area counties

New 9:39 a.m. Friday:

A freeze warning is in effect from 1a.m. to 9 a.m. Saturday for all of East Central Illinois except Ford and Iroquois counties.  Temperatures are expected to dip into the mid to upper 20s. Bring sensitive plants inside if possible.


Original story Thursday:

Updated: freeze warning issued for Tuesday

New 9:51 a.m. Monday:

A freeze warning has been issued for several area counties on Tuesday. More from the National Weather Service:

March weather: By the numbers

March weather: By the numbers


Consecutive months in which temperatures have been above average. Over the long term, the average March temperature in Champaign-Urbana is 40 degrees. Last month, it was 47.8 degrees.

Feb. 25

Severe weather updates March 31, 2016

Below is a collection of East Central Illinois weather updates for Mar. 31, 2016. If you have weather news to share, e-mail

Weather advisories

New 2:17 p.m.

A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for southern Vermilion County until 3 p.m.


New 1:54 p.m.

Wind advisory in effect for southern counties

A wind advisory is in effect for Coles, Edgar and Shelby counties until 7 p.m. Tuesday.  Wind gusts up to 45 miles per hour are possible.  You should be careful while driving, especially in large vehicles on east-west roads.  And you should tie down or bring inside your outdoor items so they are not blown away.

Updated: tornado watch, wind advisory issued for area counties

New 4:13 p.m. Tuesday:

A wind advisory has been issued for East Central Illinois from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday.  Gusts up to 45 miles per hour are possible.


Original story:

A tornado watch has been issued for DeWitt, Piatt and Macon counties until 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Champaign asks residents to register alarm systems

CHAMPAIGN — The city is asking residents to register their alarm systems ahead of the spring storm season, when false alarms are most common because of heavy rain and high winds.

Residents and businesses are required to register their systems, and face heavy fines if they fail to do so.