Derecho Storm Winds Knock Over College Church Steeple on Washington St Near Seminary Ave, Wheaton

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Strong Thunderstorm winds, part of a Derecho System passing through the Midwest and northeast Illinois Monday afternoon, August 10, 2020, knocked over the steeple at College Church, 332 E Seminary Avenue in Wheaton.

The church and steeple face Wheaton College, just west of Blanchard Hall — an administration and classroom building for Wheaton College. The steeple that collapsed was located on the top of the church building. There is a second, free-standing steeple located at the southwest corner of the church’s property. The steeple that collapsed was constructed in the early 1980s.

College Church is not formally associated with Wheaton College, but the church was founded in 1861 by the first president of Wheaton College — abolitionist Jonathan Blanchard. Many Wheaton College students attend College Church on Sundays, but the entire Wheaton College undergraduate student body officially gathers at Wheaton’s Edman Chapel for the purpose of worship on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week at 10:40 a.m. Wheaton College was founded by evangelical abolitionists in 1860. Construction of Blanchard Hall began in 1853, and the fifth phase of construction of the building was in 1927. No significant damage was reported on the Wheaton College campus.

According to the National Weather Service, over 550 severe wind reports from near Omaha, Nebraska to northern Indiana were reported Monday August 10, 2020.

A brief tornado was reported in the Rogers Park neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side. A Tornado Warning box area was activated just northeast of Wheaton, and covered a potential path area that included Rogers Park toward Lake Michigan.

A Derecho, which passed from Eastern Nebraska to Iowa to Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana on Monday August 20, 3030, is defined as a widespread, long-lived, straight-line wind storm associated with a fast-moving group of severe thunderstorms known as a mesoscale convective system.



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