Local Weather History: May 6, 1909 Destructive Storms

In a very active, violent time in parts of the U.S., we had our own severe weather in the very active May of 1909.

Posted: May 4, 2020 5:52 PM
Updated: May 6, 2020 2:31 PM

April 29-May 1, 1909 was an extremely violent period of weather for the South to as far north as Missouri & Kansas.

Tornado totals likely exceeded 40 with attending with wind & hail. 

At least 12 of the tornadoes were strong to violent with one F4 tracking at least 125 miles from northern Mississippi to far southern Tennessee.  This storm had "double tornadoes" or two large tornadoes side by side with it (like one of the supercells in the April 11, 1965 Palm Sunday storm photographed in Elkhart County, Indiana).

F4's occurred as far north as southern Illinois.

Deaths totaled at least 164 with upwards of 700 people injured.

In this outbreak, we saw numerous trees were reportedly blown down in Montgomery County & significant flash flood occurred in Crawfordsville from a "cloudburst" of wind & torrential rainfall at 10:15 p.m.  Thousands of acres of farmland were reportedly under water & cars were abandoned in some places by rising water.  Several inches of water was reported on downtown Crawfordsville streets.

Damage was also reported south of our area in Putnam County.  This followed severe storms in the same area on April 24 when a gust of 56 mph was measured at Depauw University in Greencastle. 

After this outbreak, another occurred on Thursday evening-night, May 6.

Additional tornadoes occurred in Arkansas, Tennessee & Mississippi with up to 30 additional deaths.

More severe weather was in the press May 7 after the May 6 outbreak:

Not only were we affected, but so was Chicago to southern Wisconsin on May 6.

25 homes "blown down" with fatalities & at least 50 people injured from an apparent tornado near Chicago.

A seiche or rogue high was followed the storms after they passed, coming in from the east & northeast.  The wave flooded areas from Kenosha to the northside of Chicago.

West Lafayette very hard hit by tremendous hailstorm & flooding.

Storm made the city totally cut off from water pumping station for 12 hours.

Hailstones the size of walnuts accompanied torrential rainfall, which caused severe flooding in the storm with rainfall 3:45-5 p.m. with the height of the storm at around 4:15 p.m. The flooding in the Happy Hollow area was reportedly the worst ever seen “by the oldest in habitant”.

600 panes of glass of a greenhouse were shattered on north Salisbury Street by the hail. 58 panes of glass were broken at Purdue greenhouses on campus. Tree foliage was reportedly heavy shredded with streets nearly covered in leaves & branches from the hail. The leaves & branches clogged many drains, only increasing the flooding issues.

Here is one interesting facet of the storms from just west of Indianapolis in Hendricks County:

At 8 a.m. on May 6, deepending surface low was over western Wisconsin with cold front along the Mississippi River.

It was an already warm, humid morning with temperatures near 70 at 8 a.m. with southwest wind.

T'Storms were already going over northern Illinois, but the bigger round would occur in the late afternoon to early evening as the front sliced through the area with surface low occluding over northern Wisconsin.

Surface wave in Texas seems to be key to the tornadoes in the Tennessee Valley area.

Temperatures were more than 20 degrees colder on the morning of May 7 with surface high moving overhead behind showers & t'storms from the Gulf Coast to New England.

Another round of severe weather hit May 8 (note surface low in Nebraska above that brought more storms just two days later.)

Late May 1909 also saw a peak in very violent weather with some of that affect our viewing area. 28 people alone were killed in a tornado in Texas &

1907, 1912, 1916, 1917 were all known for having days & days of very violent weather with numerous tornadoes in spring. Storm systems seemed to produced multiple waves of tornado outbreaks in the Plains, South & Midwest.

West Lafayette
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 71°
Kokomo
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 67°
Rensselaer
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 63°
Fowler
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 63°
Williamsport
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 62°
Crawfordsville
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 58°
Frankfort
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 64°
Delphi
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 63°
Monticello
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 63°
Logansport
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 57°
Very Warm, Then Rainfall Potential, Followed by Much Cooler Weather
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 113337

Reported Deaths: 3530
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20936761
Lake10334319
Elkhart6438109
St. Joseph6226103
Allen6060200
Hamilton4761109
Vanderburgh349430
Hendricks2681122
Monroe251236
Tippecanoe231213
Johnson2279123
Clark215756
Porter209046
Cass19339
Delaware189561
Vigo178524
Madison161075
LaPorte138239
Floyd132161
Howard129063
Warrick122336
Kosciusko120617
Bartholomew115357
Marshall99424
Dubois95918
Boone95646
Hancock91443
Grant89733
Noble89432
Henry78125
Wayne74714
Jackson7429
Morgan70638
Shelby66629
Daviess65428
Dearborn63928
LaGrange63211
Clinton59513
Harrison56424
Putnam53810
Lawrence50628
Montgomery50521
Knox5039
Gibson4894
White48214
DeKalb46311
Decatur45739
Miami4303
Greene41935
Fayette41813
Jasper3862
Steuben3747
Scott35910
Sullivan33112
Jennings31212
Posey3090
Franklin30325
Clay2985
Orange28624
Ripley2828
Carroll27113
Wabash2628
Washington2611
Whitley2556
Starke2537
Adams2523
Wells2503
Jefferson2443
Fulton2352
Huntington2223
Spencer2223
Tipton22022
Perry21513
Randolph2097
Jay1750
Newton17211
Owen1671
Martin1640
Rush1534
Pike1411
Vermillion1260
Fountain1202
Pulaski1151
Blackford1133
Brown1033
Crawford1030
Parke961
Benton880
Ohio777
Union770
Switzerland690
Warren391
Unassigned0225

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events