On April 21, 1967, a line of severe thunderstorms moved through northern Illinois that caused an outbreak of 19 tornados that afternoon.
At 3:50 PM, a violent, F4-rated tornado rolled through the town of Belvidere, causing damage to the local high school and killing 24 people (13 of which were at the high school).
At around 5:30 PM, another F4-rated tornado touched down at 103rd Street and 82nd Avenue in the town of Palos Hills. The twister moved rapidly (at 65 mph – more than twice the speed of the average twister) in a northeast direction towards the village of Oak Lawn, causing severe damage to the Starlite Drive-In at 95th Street and Ridgeland, and touching down again at the intersection of Southwest Highway and 95th Street.
It was at this intersection where the tornado caused the most damage, ripping the front off of Oak Lawn High School, leveling several businesses, and literally throwing transit busses, parked at their depot, randomly into the surrounding neighborhood.
The worst carnage took place as commuters, waiting in their cars for the stop light to turn green at the intersection, became helpless victims of the twister as it roared through them.
The twister continued on, leveling homes and destroying a roller skating rink on Cicero Avenue, and then moving through Hometown before reaching the Chicago city limits. It left land near 79th Street and became a waterspout over Lake Michigan.
The death toll of the Oak Lawn tornado was 33, with 16 of those perishing at Southwest Highway and 95th Street, and over 1,000 people were injured.
The twister caused over $50 million in damage ($285 million in today’s dollars) and is the benchmark tornado that all other local tornados are measured against.