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Local Weather History: April 9, 1953 Outbreak (& First Tornado Signature Seen on Radar)

April 9, 1953 saw severe weather sweep the area & on especially intense, long-track tornado track from one end of the viewing area to the other.

Posted: Apr 9, 2020 9:20 PM
Updated: Apr 9, 2020 11:33 PM

April 9, 1953 saw a severe weather outbreak strike the area.

Two dominant, notable supercells occurred, carving a path of destruction across the viewing area. The first one popped an EF2 tornado in Newton County (after producing EF2 in Logan County, Illinois), damaging areas near Goodland (damage around $250,000).

The other produced a long-lived, violent EF4 (F3 on the old Fujita Scale) with a path across Warren, Tippecanoe, Clinton & Tipton counties. 5 people were killed & 22 injured in Warren County, where some farmsteads were nearly obliterated. The tornado damaged parts of Frankfort & Tipton where 1 person was killed & 6 injured.

Interestingly, the first hook echo, with a supercell north of Champaign, was observed with the new, early, pioneering weather radar installation at Champaign.

Here is one of the significant supercells on the radar at the Champaign-Willard Airport, which captured a well-defined hook echo as tornado tore through Champaign County north of the radar site.  This is the killer, violent tornado that tracked through our area.

Courtesy of the University of Illinois & Illinois Water Survey:

Here is what it would look like on modern radar (large, violent tornadosouthwest of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma):

Original radar & tornado track shown in relation to location of the radar (Courtesy of the University of Illinois & Illinois Water Survey:):

Here it is on the ground in Champaign County (Courtesy of the University of Illinois & Illinois Water Survey:):

Large hail up to 3" in diameter occurred north of the violent tornado track from Warren to Clinton counties.  Considerable hail damage to roofs, windows, greenhouses, automobiles & orchards occurred from central Warren to far southside of Lafayette to northern Clinton County

The storm that produced the EF2 produced up to 2" hail & was accompanied & then transition to just damaging straight-line winds.

Hundreds of trees & considerable damage occurred from the wind alone from Jasper to Fulton counties.

The EF4 tornado had a near 157-mile track based on current evidence available that it was one single tornado & not multiple tornadoes.  Damage path is definitely solid from north of Champaign to Tipton County.  Beyond that, there is a bit less solid damage information.  So, if there was a break & there was was a second tornado, it would be in Madison County or Delaware County.

The damage in Madison & Delware counties seem to peak at EF3.

Inflation-adjusted, damage in our viewing area just for the tornado (not including the damaging large hail north of the tornado track) totaled $73.2 million .  For the entire path, damage was $146 million.

Key to the EF4's longevity seems to center on its track at the triple point of strong occluding low pressure system.

Greencastle Daily Banner, April 10, 1953, Page 1:

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