December 6, 1998
Single Bow Serial Derecho
Max Gust In Our Viewing Area: M89 mph Grissom Air Reserve Base
Track length: Approximately 627 miles
Maximum width: Approximately 205 miles
This was an extra long-lived cool-season QLCS that raked a broad swath from southern Illinois to southeastern Ontario.
Near all-time record warmth for December (only 1982 was as warm or warmer) preceded this derecho that was racing eastward, hit the area after dark on December 6 of 1998. Trees & powerlines were blown down & minor structural damage over much of the area except our northwestern counties as bow pivoted northeastward from the south west with one tornado reported in the comma heat in Vermilion County, Illinois. Widespread winds of 60 to near 90 mph occurred with the bow.
In a sampling, power poles, signs & one pole barn were blown down in Edgar County, Illinois with many trees & powerlines blown down near Hoopeston, while two farm machine sheds were destroyed, along with outbuildings & grain bins on two farms near Blair, Illinois (southern Illinois' Randolph County). 2 x 4s were driven through a nearby vacant home on one of the farms. In Indiana, widespread wind damage occurred with trees, powerlines & roof damage. A barn was demolished in Frankton, while a mobile home was blown off its foundation in Henry County. The roof was completely blown off a Super 8 Motel in Martinsville, Indiana, while a sign was blown off a pizza parlor nearby, damaging 30 automobiles at a downwind dealership. A roof was torn off a tool shed at Coesse, in Whitley County, while a barn lost its roof near Columbia City amidst many trees & powerlines downed.
Significant roof damage occurred to University Hall at Purdue with gust at the nearby airport clocking 77 mph (gusts across Tippecanoe County measured at 72-77 mph). A 35-car freight train was blown off the tracks in Carroll County near Rockfield & a Total Discount Store, restaurant & church suffered structural damage in Logansport. A grain bin was blown down at Walton, while the roof was blown off of a farm cooperative warehouse near Grissom ARB & a barn lost part of its roof near Bunker Hill. A mobile home was destroyed & another damaged at Peru. Widespread wind damage was concentrated from Chili to Bunker Hill with signs of gusts near 90 mph.
I just remember this storm (as a senior in high school at the time in southwest Indiana) destroying my hoophouse full of lettuce, & spinach crop at the time under plastic & that there were trees & limbs down around the area. I remember it being such a warm November & December that I was able to grow lots of cooler season crops well into December, especially under the plastic & that thick carpets of chickweed & henbit continued to grow with even some dandelions.
It was an usually warm, humid evening with my thermometer maxing at 73 & it was still 68 at 8 p.m. The storm did not last long, but I distinctly remember the wall of roar as it approached. It looked like a hurricane for 10-15 seconds with <0.25 mile visibility. Maximum gust measured at home was 60 mph. I believe the gust was 70 mph at our Ag Shop with our anemometer on our high school roof about 4 miles to the west.
Missing in SPC storm report archives, but all reports are up in the archives in the National Climate Database. I took these reports & plotted them on the map below.
Note all of the Severe T'Storm Warnings with the line (yellow county outlines).
However, much of the area was not put under a watch. The Severe T'Storm Watch was issued for Miami & Howard as the line was moving through those areas. The watch tended to encompass areas east & south of the area.
Highs preceding the line reached record warm levels at 65-72 on November 6. The all-time record high for the month of December is 74 set in 1982 at Greater Lafayette (records back to 1879).