(Reuters) - At least one person was killed when a rare winter tornado raked northern Illinois on Tuesday, part of a band of severe weather that pummeled the area with baseball-sized hail, the National Weather Service said.
The tornado struck near Ottawa, a town of about 19,000 people 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Chicago, killing at least one person in the area, meteorologist Amy Seeley said by telephone. She had no further details.
The La Salle News Tribune reported power outages and heavy damage to a nursing home and other buildings. A fire official told the newspaper that there had been minor injuries in the nearby village of Naplate.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has activated the state's emergency operations center to help deal with recovery. Area emergency officials could not be reached for comment.
Seeley said the storm front had pounded the Ottawa area with baseball-sized hail and high winds before moving east into Indiana with lessening strength.
She said the February tornado was a rarity in Illinois, but noted that the area had seen several January tornadoes in 2008.
"It is unusual but it has happened before," Seeley said.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler)