Local Weather History: High Risk-Type Outbreak April 30, 1962

What would likely be a modern-day "SPC High Risk" day in our area, a significant severe weather outbreak struck the region.

Posted: Apr 30, 2020 5:15 PM
Updated: Apr 30, 2020 10:58 PM

A significant severe weather outbreak occurred in our area on April 30, 1962.  1 person was killed & at least 14 people were injured.  Total damage in the area (inflation-adjusted) was +$5 million.

The U.S. Weather Bureau surveys at the time reported that the damage in eastern Illinois to Indiana was +90% from significant straight-line winds & not tornadoes.

Outbreak began in the midday to afternoon with surface low in Illinois & strong surface cold front & passed through our area in the 2-3:15 p.m. time frame.

Temperatures ahead of the low & front surged to unseasonably warm levels well into the 80s to around 90.  Chicago reached 88, Fort Wayne & Indianapolis 87 & highs reached up to 88 in the viewing area.

Even at 1 a.m. on May 1, the matured squall line was still going & lined up from Toledo, Ohio to Houston, Texas.

In this significant severe weather outbreak winds gusted 60-110 mph across central Illinois with isolated downburst gusts to 135 mph.  Winds gusted +100 mph in the viewing area. The line of storms brought widespread substantial to significant wind damage & 4 confirmed tornadoes.

An F2 tornado tracked through Newton County, while another F2 tornado in Jasper County did ¼ million dollars in damage. An F1 tornado in White County also did ¼ million dollars in damage. An F1 tornado roared through Miami County, while winds gusted to 85 mph in Cass County & 80 mph winds struck Warren & Fountain counties.  Outside of our area, an F3 tornado injured 49 people in St. Joseph County. 

However, the worst of the straight line wind damage was in Benton & White counties in a swath of 95-120 mph.

Winds likely peaked with macrobursts around Dunnington, Atkinson & Templeton to north of Montmorenci to near Chalmers where multiple steel, high-voltage towers were toppled & crumbled by +100 mph winds.  Multiple barns were also destroyed.  Several farmhouses saw significant roof damage.  Damage continued eastward to Cass & Miami counties.  Even at the Fort Wayne Airport, a wind gust of 89 mph was measured.  Multiple airplanes nearby were lifted up to 50' in the air.  One was destroyed. 

A similar wind situation occurred August 15, 2007 when intense downburst (embedded in 3- to 5-mile wide swath of +80 mph winds that tracked more than 70 miles) in southeast Porter County caused the same type of damage.  NWS Chicago indicated in their storm survey that winds peak at 100-120 mph.

Porter County Emergency management took this picture of the toppled high-voltage tranmission towers in the August 15, 2007 severe weather north of our area (courtesy NWS Chicago):

Several building suffered significant damage near Demotte with several people injured. 

Children were injured at Kentland Elementary School when a chimney crumbled, while a tractor trailer was overturned northeast of Kentland as a state tropper nearby spotted the tornado "full of lumber & debris".

A 3-year old children was picked up & carried away over fences & two blocks by the tornado at Peru.  She was found 30 minutes after the tornado passed, covered in mud & debris.  She was scared & leaning up against a house, but incredibly not seriously injured.

A high cement wall under construction collapsed on a worker northeast of Thorntown, crushing him.

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