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A large tornado tore through communities southeast of Rockford, Illinois, on Thursday evening, part of a larger outbreak of severe thunderstorms gripping the eastern half of the United States. Numerous videos show the strong tornado scraping across the landscape, and several buildings in the area were heavily damaged or destroyed.

The above video was taken by Stephanie Sego Curtis near Rochelle, Illinois, and posted to WIFR-TV's public Facebook page, showing the tornado as it moved through a neighboring community. The large, wedge tornado is accompanied by a well-defined rotating wall cloud, which is quite a sight from afar, but even more intense and impressive up close like this.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency reports that one person died and several people were transported to the hospital as a result of the tornado; the fatality occurred in Fairdale, a very small community in rural DeKalb County, about 14 miles southeast of Rockford.

Local news is reporting that a Rochelle-area restaurant called Grubsteakers was destroyed by the tornado, and tweeted out the following picture showing firefighters sifting through the rubble.

Firefighters from Rockford said that they're having a hard time reaching the areas struck by the tornado due to debris blocking the road.

As usual, The Weather Channel has been on top of the situation this afternoon, and the live coverage from Dr. Greg Forbes and Carl Parker was (before sunset, at least) supplemented by various live streams from storm chasers in the region. One chaser, Matt Salo, closely followed behind the storm and provided incredible footage of both the tornado and the damage it left behind.

Here's a clip from TWC's coverage while the tornado was moving into Fairdale:

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...and the resulting damage to Fairdale:

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Since it's getting dark and the event is still unfolding, we don't have a full picture of the extent of the damage. This was fairly strong tornado (one of those "significant" tornadoes the Storm Prediction Center warned about this morning) that was on the ground for a while, so the path of damage could be more than a dozen miles long. A team of meteorologists from the National Weather Service will survey this and all areas of tornado damage around the country tomorrow or Saturday in order to assign each tornado a rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

The above image shows the radar's reflectivity product (showing precipitation) as the supercell and its tornado tore through Rochelle and Fairdale. Meteorologists were able to confirm the tornado using data collected by Doppler weather radar; in addition to the strong rotation, the radar was able to detect debris swirling around in and around the tornado, as it reflects back to the radar as a stronger area of returns.

Recent developments called "dual-polarization" allow the radar beam to determine the size and the shape of the objects, further allowing meteorologists to confirm that there was indeed debris circulating in the tornado. Below is the correlation coefficient product, showing the dreaded blue dot that indicates debris lofted in the air.

The Storm Prediction Center has received 16 reports of tornadoes through 9:50 PM EDT, with at least five confirmed tornadoes so far: one west of Shreveport, Louisiana, one west of St. Louis, Missouri, one just northwest of Davenport, Iowa, one near Peoria, Illinois, and the one covered above near Rockford, Illinois.

The threat for tornadoes will continue through the night, but start to evolve into a damaging wind threat as we get deeper into the overnight hours. Severe weather will shift east tomorrow, posing a damaging wind and large hail threat for most major cities along the coast from Philadelphia to the Rio Grande River in Texas.

[Videos: Stephanie Sego Curtis/WIFR-TV via Facebook, The Weather Channel | Radar: Gibson Ridge | Corrected to add Rochelle, Illinois, to the second paragraph. | Updated to include correlation coefficient radar imagery and casualty information.]

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