Local Weather History: The April 21, 1912 Newton to Jasper County Tornadoes

A look back at a violent tornado & intense severe weather outbreak with two killer tornadoes in our area.

Posted: Apr 23, 2019 9:31 PM
Updated: Apr 24, 2019 2:26 PM

This historic tornado outbreak produced up to 33 apparent tornadoes from the Plains to Illinois to as far east as Jasper County in our area.  Some tornadoes occurred as far east as Georgia & South Carolina in the April 20-22, 1912 outbreak.  The outbreak was Kansas to Texas April 20, Illinois & Indiana April 21 & then Alabama, Georgia to South Carolina April 22.

11 people were killed & 27 injured by a late evening violent F4 tornado at Morocco.  Another 50 were “bruised by flying debris” in its up to 30-mile track.  20 homes were reportedly destroyed in Morocco with the tornado hitting town “from end to end”.  Two more people were killed east of Morocco by the twister with an additional 20 farmsteads destroyed.

The same supercell produced a second tornado (there is not enough evidence to say it was one single, solid track yet).  Research continues, but it appears that a second tornado, an F3, touched down northeast of Mt. Ayr & then tracked up to 10 miles into rural Jasper County (northwest & north of Rensselaer).  Hhomes, barns, and a church were completely destroyed as it passed through Union Township.  One person was killed running & trying to reach shelter as the fast-moving twister overtook them.

Of the tornadoes in this outbreak, 18 were strong to violent F3s & F4s. 

The only other reports from the area are of structures hit by lightning at Crawfordsville & Lafayette & then south at Greencastle.  Research is ongoing.

Another big outbreak occurred April 27-29.

Overall the 1912 April to May period was very violent with repeating severe weather outbreaks in the Plains & Midwest, similar to the spring of 1917.  It bears resemblance to other very violent periods of weather, like the April-May of 2011 (April 25-28 Super Outbreak & May 22 Joplin EF5 tornado). 

Damage at a farmstead near Morocco the day after the tornado:

Nearby Iroqouis County, Illinois at Chatsworth:

This is an account of a similar supercell t'storm that tracked north of the Morocco supercell from Livingston to Kankakee counties in Illinois to Lake County, Indiana.  It produced an F2 tornado with a 13-mile track that ended near Lowell.

Strong storm system moved from Colorado to Iowa to Michigan April 20-22, 1912:

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