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Local Weather History: The Costly Montgomery County Wind & Hail Storm: July 28, 1943

A highly-damaging hailstorm struck a long swath of Montgomery County (up to 2 miles wide on July 28, 1943 as a warm front shifted northward.

Posted: Jul 26, 2018 4:22 PM
Updated: Oct 9, 2018 2:37 PM

1943 saw a distinct transition from heavy rainfall & significant flooding initially late spring to summer to suddenly hot & dry late summer to early fall with a short-term "flash drought" scenario.

In this transition, we saw several severe storm episodes, including another costly one on July 28, 1943.  This wind & hail storm beat a long swath of Montgomery County with crop destruction up to two miles wide.  This, after damaging severe storms struck in early July with one significant macroburst: 

http://www.wlfi.com/content/news/JULY-5-1943-SEVERE-STORMS-487521481.html

Notice surface cold front moving back north as a warm front 28-29th of '43 in the maps below.  We can even see the storms at 2:30 a.m. on the 29th on the surface map just northeast of our area (second map from U.S. Weather Bureau [NOAA] at the time).

Near $200,000 (inflation adjusted) in damage was done to crops alone from the storm in Montgomery County from these storms.  Damage to structures amounted to around $7500 (inflation adjusted).

Trees & power poles blown down & windows blown out of buildings by storm in Vigo County, 40-45 miles to the southwest. 

Other damage occurred in central & eastern Indiana July 28-29.  Barns were damaged in Jay County, Indiana & trees & power poles/wires were downed by damaging winds.  Seven people were injured in likely a high-end EF2 tornado in southeastern Indiana.  Carving a path 7 miles long, it produced significant structural damage that amounted to $11.7 million.  Even near Grand Rapids, Michigan, a very intense wind & hail storms over a 10-mile path produced damage to structures, trees, power poles/wires & crops. 

Other severe storms produced wind damage, large hail & tornadoes in Iowa during this period July 28-29.

Notice the instability (CAPE or storm energy) anomaly in a belt over our region.  This is pretty impressive, given that there is a near 1000 J/kg anomaly in late July when high CAPE is pretty common anyway.  So, late July 28, 1943 to 29 of '43 saw high CAPE.  This means strong updrafts to sustain hail stones in the storm to accrete to larger size. 

Also, what goes up, must come down, so the strong updrafts likely fueled strong downdrafts for damaging wind.

Wind vector anomaly at mid-levels shows a jet streak nosing in.  This anomaly likely enhanced the shear at the hail level, which supported large hail accretion.  These all seems to be along a warm front, so it is likely that shear was also enhanced at low levels.  It is possible that the low level wind & shear was stronger in southeastern Indiana that led to that substantial tornado there.

On a side note, notice that circulation in Texas.  That was a hurricane that made landfall.  Deamed the "Surprise Hurricane", no weather forecasts of the impending storm were released for fear that the Axis powers at the height of WWII at the time would take advantage.  Due to censorship of the hurricane reports from the U.S. government there was great surprise regarding the storm & the death toll was reportedly higher, as a result. 

A Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds peaking at 105 mph, the death toll was at least 19.  However, given so much censorship at the time due to the war, this may have been much higher.  We may never know how many perished, as it was hushed to avoid the Axis powers to see a window of weakness to attack the U.S. mainland.

Reports were made of the hurricane, but they were later squashed & buried.

Reportedly, this was the last time the government kept any hurricane reports in WWII secret.  This was due to the death toll in Texas.

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