Central Illinois is reeling after a Saturday rash of at least 22 tornadoes crushed houses, tore up trees, and took down power lines, CNN reports. It "feels like I woke up to a nightmare," says a man in Taylorville, the hardest-hit town. Officials say 21 people were hospitalized there, one critically, and crews responded to over a dozen houses that contained trapped people, per ABC News. At least 30 injuries have been reported, but no fatalities. Illinois averages 47 tornadoes annually, usually peaking in May, but a strong cold front set up "the perfect conditions" for Saturday's blitz, says CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar.
Tornadoes have been moving east in recent decades from Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas to states on and east of the Mississippi River—including Illinois, the AP reports. Sadly, that means tornadoes are forming more often in more populated areas. Why the change? "We don't know," says Victor Gensini, who lead a study on the subject. "This is super consistent with climate change." Seems the Great Plains are drying out, providing less moisture to create storms that trigger tornadoes, while a line of dry, tornado-producing air is moving east. "This is what you would expect in a climate change scenario, we just have no way of confirming it at the moment," says Gensini. (See more about Gensini's study.)