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.