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Hailstorm barrels through county; funnel clouds reported

National Weather Service spokesman no tornado touched amid reports in Sandwich, Shabbona

A fast-moving thunderstorm capable of producing tornadoes brought high winds and hail to DeKalb County on Thursday, prompting school administrators to have students and teachers seek emergency shelter.

An administrator said students at DeKalb-based District 428 schools took emergency precautions as the storm passed, as did with those at Indian Creek Elementary School in Shabbona, according to a post on the latter school’s Facebook page. The storm briefly knocked out phone and internet service at Indian Creek school.

Amy Seeley of the National Weather Service said no tornadoes touched down as a result of the storm, although the weather service received multiple reports of funnel clouds near Sandwich and Somonauk.

DeKalb District 428 students were directed to take shelter around noon Thursday, Superintendent Jamie Craven said. He said the warning was lifted at 12:25 p.m., at which time students returned to their normal schedules.

“Although we were pretty certain the storm had gone through at that point, and it was south and east of us, that’s really for us to make that call,” Craven said. “It was actually still raining, and due to the conditions of the playgrounds, to my knowledge there were no kids outside.”

Craven said all the buildings in the district have designated tornado shelter areas, and students practice emergency drills on a regular basis.

“Initial reports are that everything went well in each building,” Craven said.

Craven said district protocol also includes communication with area law enforcement in case any help is needed.

“I called DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery to confirm we were under a tornado warning because we had not received a city alert, and the tornado sirens weren’t going off,” Craven said. “At that point we had already given direction to all buildings to go to shelter. He and I discussed what we knew at the time and what their response was going to be.”

Chad Willis, superintendent of the Indian Creek School District, did not respond to requests for comment.

The fast-moving storm system produced gusts of up to 60 mph and pelted parts of DeKalb with hailstones, which the weather service said could be the size of a quarter and damage vehicles.

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