Local Weather History: The Weekly Top 10 List: Top 10 Worst September Severe Weather Episodes/Outbreaks

September is not typically active severe weather-wise, but there have been noteworthy events. Here are the Top 10 in our areas weather history

Posted: Sep 27, 2018 5:28 PM
Updated: Oct 9, 2018 2:31 PM

1.  September 28, 1999

3 significant HP supercells produced a series of downbursts & brief tornadoes with golfball hail from Pine Village to Yeoman, Attica to Flora & Otterbein to Brookston to Fulton. Heavy structural, tree & crop damage occurred sporadically in these 3 tracks. Winds gusted to 103 mph near Montmorenci, while an F1 tornado with winds to 105 mph hit Buck Creek. 100 mph wind gust occurred near Fulton. Damage to structures, powerlines & crops amounted to millions of dollars.

2.  September 21, 1950

A tremendous, devastating hailstorm pummeled Logansport in the late afternoon. Damage estimates amounted to $11 million (1950 dollars, which would be $115.1 million in 2018) as hailstones of 2” diameter (driven by strong winds) broke windows, damaged homes & buildings & broke out street lights. It is considered one of the worst hailstorms on record for the city. 

Flooding rainfall of up to 6" fell in the area, including Logansport & wind & hail damage occurred as far as Howard County.

3.  September 18, 1972

6 Miles east-southeast of Crawfordsville an area of golfball- to baseball-sized hail pelted maturing corn& soybean fields on County Roads 100S & 200S from the Montgomery-Boone County line to western Boone County northwest of Advance.

At 7 a.m. an MCS with heavy rainfall & large hail-producing multi-cells amidst sporadic damaging wind was on-going in northeast Illinois & far northern Indiana. With the diminishing low-level jet, these storms appear to have weakened late morning. However, an outflow boundary encountered a hot, humid airmass with rather unseasonable middle to upper 80s temperatures & dew points in the 70s around noon. Several supercells & multi-cells storms popped on the boundary in the unstable, rather sheared environment, producing hail in Montgomery, Boone & Hamilton counties.

4.  September 1, 1989

Several supercells along a warm front on the night of August 31 produced damaging winds of up to 73 mph in White County & a substantial F2 tornado 3 miles northeast of Kewanna in Fulton County. The twister was on the ground for 1.5 miles & reached a maximum width of 1500’. Injuring 3 people, it caused $2.5 million in damage (1989 dollars).

Then, during the early morning hours of September 1, a squall line running from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Jefferson City, Missouri (with damaging straight-line winds) passed with winds up to 70 mph.

I remember this squall line very well in 3rd grade, as it was a Friday (Friday before Labor Day weekend) & we were all scared as the sky blackened & the squall line passed near 9:30 or 10 a.m. I still remember to this day my teacher, Mrs. Groves saying, “It’s just a storm, don’t be afraid”, as all of our eyes were glued to the ensuing gust front winds & dark skies out our window.

5.  September 26, 1930

Widespread wind damage to trees & powerlines across Indiana.  Extensive wind damage into Michigan as well with as much as 75% of the apple crop lost in some areas.  A tornado at Tuscola County, Michigan "wrecked" many buildings.  Widespread severe weather was also reported across Iowa to Illinois to as far south as Arkansas.

6.  September 16, 1886

Tornadoes were reported in Vermillion & Parke, Fountain, Vigo, Madison & Adams counties. The Vermillion-Parke County tornado was on the ground from 11:35 a.m. to noon with a funnel shape & northeastward track. The "funnel"-shaped Vigo County twister struck at 11:30 a.m. & moved northeastward, while the Adams County tornado struck in the afternoon. (1)

The northeastward-moving Fountain County "funnel"-shaped twister occurred at 4 p.m. with a "narrow" path of damage. (1)

The Madison County tornado was up to one-half mile wide (2,640') & was different from the others in that it moved due east & developed much later (8:15 p.m.). (1)

The American Meteorological Journal A Monthly Review of Meteorology, Medical Climatology, and Geography Edited by Mark W. Harrington, A. Lawrence Rotch, and W.J. Herdman, Ph. B., M.D. Volume 6 May, 1889-April 1890 Ann Arbor, Michigan Page 350 & 353

11:35 a.m. to noon on September 16 a "funnel"-shaped tornado moved northeastward from Hillsdale to Sylvania, destroying one house, two barns, and smaller buildings. (1)

According to the reports to the U.S. "General Weather Service" at the time: "Funnel cloud was light blue at top, and in front black an ominous, as it rose from the horizon. As it ascended, it appeared to drag after it, three clouds of similar shape and color. The cloud was accompanied by a loud, roaring noise."

Four miles south of Covington at 4 p.m., a "funnel"-shaped tornado moved northeastward with a narrow width of destruction to "much timber and a few buildings". At 11:30 a.m., a "funnel"-shaped tornado tracked northeastward, with two as the "number of people wounded". One hotel, two stores, two mills, and five barns were destroyed. This tornado was categorized as "very destructive" with $135,000 in damage in 1886 dollars. (1)

At 8:15 p.m., a "funnel" tornado tracked near Dundee, Indiana with many homes and buildings destroyed. Tracking east, the maximum with was 2,640'. (1)

According to the reports to the U.S. "General Weather Service" at the time: "The cloud formed rapidly in the w., being made up from a collection of dark clouds which came from nw. and sw., brought to view twenty minutes previously by an ordinary gale. The clouds had two narrow streamers or funnels of a very dark green color. It was accompanied by a loud, roaring noise, like a train of cars shaking the earth.

1 Transcribed by myself

General Weather Service of the United States Monthly Weather Review United States Signal Service September 1886 Page 259

7. September 29, 1967

A strong fall cold front produced a line of t’storms which spun up a F2 tornado northwest of Wheatfield, in Newton County. 1 person was injured & damaged amounted to $25,000 (1967 dollars).

8.  September 25, 1878


Great Destruction of Property at Lebanon

(Special to the Indianapolis News)

LEBANON, September 26.-At 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon, a terrific wind storm struck this beautiful little city, and this morning with its shade trees torn down, its houses unroofed and its streets filled with rubbish, it is no longer recognizable as the hithero loveliest place on the I. C. & L road. The greatest loss is the First Presbyterian Church, a new edifice costing $18,000. This is a complete ruin, the roof being torn off and most of the walls thrown down, the rest being cracked so that they too will have to be taken down. Nearly all the business houses on the north and south side of the courthouse square have been unroofed. The entire north roof of the Methodist church was blown off, damaging the building fully $1,200. Heavy timbers were hurled through the air and many persons were injured, fortunately none seriously. The storm seemed to separate near the west side of the town, where it entered, one part part going through Main and the other part through the outskirts of town, unroofing dwellings in its course. The destruction of window glass was immense, and glassers will reap a rich harvest here in repairing the vitreous damage. This town, so beautifully shaded, has suffered a loss in its trees uprooted by the tornado, which it will take years to repair. The loss to Lebanon, will not, when the total is footed up, fall short of $50,000-all done in less than five minutes, so short and yet so severe was the tornado. The following business blocks are damaged as follows:

Zion's block, $1,000; the marble front, $500; Patriot building, $250; Lebanon bank building, $350; Courthouse, $350.

As the storm was coming up, Major J. W. Gordon and Judge S. H. Buskirk, of Indianapolis, were engaged in a case at the courthouse, the Major addressing the court. Judge Buskirk suggested the adjournment in view of the storm, to which the major objected, saying grandeloquently, “The storm is in the hands of a power greater than man.” At that instant, the courthouse roof went off, and the glass burst in with a terrible crash. The major's speech ended instanter, and he was the first man, minus his hat, to get out of the building.

Indianapolis News Indianapolis, Indiana September 26, 1878 Page 1

About the year 1872 the building was sold to the United Presbyterians, who afterwards sold it to the Baptists.

The corner storm of the new buildings was laid September 1, 1873. The storm which swept over the city on the evening of September 25, 1878, destroyed the beautiful buildings. The next day as the people viewed the ruins, such a remarks as “this ends Presbyterianism in Lebanon, “ were heard. It looked like it. The pastor who had labored so energetically and efficiently in the erection of the new buildings had resigned his charge; the financial strength of the members of the church was exhausted; the buildings in ruins and a debt on it of $1,500. A few days after the storm a meeting of the members was called to determine what to do. Plan after plan was suggested but none adopted. Finally, when it seemed that nothing would be accomplished, one member suggested that the pastor, I.M. Bishop, be requested to reconsider his resignation, and that they make the attempt to rebuild. This they determined to do. By the little which the congregation and citizens of Lebanon could give, with the very liberal foreign aid from friends and Boards of the Church Erection, the present buildings was erected. About $13,000 was spent on the former house an about $4, 500 on the present building.

Early Life and Times in Boone County, Indiana By Samuel Harden Spahr 1887 Page 217-218

About 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon the most destructive wind and rain storm of many years visited this city. So far as heard from no lives were lost in this county, although great damage was done to buildings, fencing, fruit trees, &c.

A portion of the roof on B. L. Ornbaun's brick business block was lifted up and thrown back and the garret flooded with water, with considerable damage to the house. The front of the large carriage house at Insley's livery stables was nearly deposited in the street. The Duckworth brothers had a the frame up of Warner Wilhite's new residence in Dunn's addition and the sheeting partly nailed on but the wind lifted it off the foundation and piled the wreck against the fence. Fruit and shade trees in different parts of the city were either partly twisted off or entirely broken down. Some of the farmers reports nearly all of the fall apples knocked from the trees and a great deal of fencing down. The storm seems to have been general throughout the State. The wind storm yesterday demolished a chimney and knocked a hole through the rood of Ed. Rowe's house.

Crawfordsville Star Crawfordsville, Indiana September 26, 1878 Page 1 & 8

9. September 26, 1981

Trees & power lines were knocked down in Newton, Jasper, Benton, White & Pulaski counties by damaging straight-line winds as a squall line passed.

A viewer from White County sent me an email & explained that he was on a school bus headed home when this line hit. He told me that it was a tremendous storm with the bus rocking from the wind & completely eveloped in dust off the surrounding plowed & unplowed soybean fields. The bus had to sit at a standstill until the worst of the storm passed.

10. September 20, 1973

During the early morning hours of the 20th, a bow echo blasted through our northeastern & eastern counties. The storms began as supercells in northern & northeast Illinois with hail over baseball size southwest of Chicago & quickly evolved into a bow with winds as high as 81 mph south of South Bend& winds to 65 mph Rochester to Peru to Marion.

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