Severe thunderstorms and tornado activity roared through the north-central Illinois and northwest Indiana corridor Monday night, leaving nearly 550,000 homes and businesses without power. However, it appears that area horses emerged relatively unscathed.

Meteorologist Ed Shimon of the National Weather Service (NWS) stated, “This storm produced very damaging downburst winds, up to 70-80 mph, across north-central Illinois and into Indiana. The winds pulled down entire trees and even lifted roofs off buildings.”

Shimon confirmed the NWS Central Illinois office received one report of an injured horse near Princeville, Ill., however numerous area veterinary clinics reported no equine mishaps at all.

David Fitzpatrick, DVM, of Fitzpatrick Equine Field Service in Kankakee, Ill., said, “For storms earlier in the year, we did get calls of horses being injured by blown objects, or from running into fences. While this storm was serious, owners are probably now more aware of storm safety.

“Putting your horse into the barn and securing loose objects goes a long way in cutting down injury potential in a storm,” Fitzpatrick advised.

Having an emergency plan can also help you when storms or dangerous situations strike unexpectedly. If you haven’t yet created one for you and your horses, The Horse has a 15-page Emergency Planning Workbook to guide you through the process.

For immediate guidance during severe weather, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a National Weather Service Web site, with reports by region. Click on “Organization” in their page menu to find the NWS Weather Office near you. Being aware of dangerous weather can help you and your horses stay safe.