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Local Weather History: Week of October 1-7 Top Ten List: The Worst October Severe Weather Outbreaks In Our Area

Here are the top ten worst October severe weather outbreaks on record for our area.

Posted: Oct. 2, 2018 9:02 PM
Updated: Oct. 9, 2018 2:31 PM

1.  October 18, 1996

A QLCS with three embedded supercells produced several intense microbursts & macrobursts. 10 homes were heavily damaged near Newport. 5 homes were damaged near New Market & Mace in Montgomery County. One home was moved 1/2 foot off its foundation& structural damage occurred to a factory. Wind damage was reported in Crawfordsville to near Manson in Clinton County from a narrow swath of straight-line winds north of the microburst & macroburst.

A macroburst occurred near Logansport & injured 3 people via flying debris driven by an estimated 90 mph wind gust. Several homes& businesses were damaged in Logansport & the roof was blown off a church. The worst damage was around the church. There, wind gust likely peaked at 95 mph. It would take such a gust to totally remove the roof from the church.

No hail or tornadoes were produced. Less than two weeks later, another damaging severe outbreak would strike.

2.  October 7, 1955

Around midnight, squall line blasted into area. Torrential rainfall of 1.60” fell in one hour at the Purdue Airport with an eventual total of 2.56”. The Purdue Agronomy greenhouses had windows blown out, resulting in $90,000 in damage (inflation-adjusted). Many trees, tree limbs & powerlines were blown down in West Lafayette. A mobile home north of town was flipped & destroyed. Of the occupants, two children were injured. For that kind of damage, winds would need to be 86-110 mph. Homecoming displays were damaged by the severe t'storm just two days before the Wisconsin-Purdue homecoming game match-up. Outside of the viewing area, An F1 tornado was confirmed in Wells County, Indiana, while 3 F1 tornadoes were confirmed in the St. Louis area (2 people were injured). An F2 was confirmed between Mattoon & Effingham, in eastern Illinois.

3. October 29, 1996

A QLCS with small LEWPs within it passed through the WLFI viewing area 7:50-10 p.m. on October 29, 1996.

Widespread straight-line wind damage was reported countywide in Newton, Jasper, Pulaski, Fulton, Benton, White, Fountain & Tipton counties with damage in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Numerous trees, tree limbs, powerlines & power poles were downed by the winds & literally hundreds of farm buildings sustained damage area-wide.

A home’s roof was heavily damaged in Crawfordsville, trees fell atop a camper at Concord (Tippecanoe County), hundreds of trees were snapped or uprooted at Newtown. Rensselaer, Monticello, Rochester, Crawfordsville, Russiaville, Lebanon & Windfall all reported significant damage to the communities” trees with numerous homes reporting roof damage. Grain augers were overturned by the winds at Lebanon.

4.  October 23, 1856

Tornadoes reported in Fountain & Boone counties. In Fountain County, “The damage on the West Plains& Shawnee Prairie has doubtless been very great. Such a tornado has not been before experienced on the Wabash within the memory of the ‘oldest inhabitant’”. The other damaging tornado at Thorntown, Boone County: “……down on the principle streets, while fences & stables were damaged in every part of town.”

A tornado also hit the central Illinois town of Littleton, as well, with “nearly every house in the place entirely destroyed.” There, the all-brick Methodist church was “torn down to the foundation.” Deaths & injuries were reported in Illinois, but no record of such in Fountain & Boone counties has been recovered.

Another round of severe weather occurred in late November with damage reported in Benton & Tippecanoe counties.

5.  October 25, 1866

Widespread damage & several apparent brief tornadoes occurred in Tippecanoe, Montgomery, Warren, Fountain & Clinton counties.  Just southeast of our area, the Indianapolis area was particularly hard hit with substantial to significant damage.  This occurred after a killer tornado just southeast of Indianapolis on October 10.

There were many reports in local newspapers:

The great storm of Sunday afternoon and evening, of which our dispatches furnish full accounts, seems to have swept over a wide extent of country............Railroad trains were delayed by trees being blown across the track and the storm prevailed all over the western part of the State.

-Crawfordsville Weekly Journal

A tornado swept over this city about 8 o'clock last evening. It came from the southwest, and striking the new river bridge, stripped the roof from the middle and east span in a twinkling, filling the air with the flying shingles and the timbers of the wreck. A considerable portion of the roof of the east span lodged on the bank of the canal, and at the waters edge, but the most of it fell into the river and was swept down by the current. We hear of some damage in other parts of the city. A brickwood-house at the residence of Moses Fowler was partially demolished, Switzer Hall on the market space was unroofed, innumerable trees wer blown down, and several conservative old fences and cow sheds succumbed to the pressure.

-Lafayette Courier

6.  October 26, 1844

Trees, fences & buildings were reportedly downed in Tippecanoe & Cass counties by severe t'storms.

A damaging tornado with injuries & deaths occurred at Kansas City on the 25th & at 9 p.m. on the 25th, a large tornado destroyed homes near Westport, Missouri (near St. Louis) with deaths & injuries. It was reported to be near ¼ mile wide & on the ground for at least 8 miles.

This was apart of the famous Lower Lakes Storm that “swept the lakes clean of sail” with hurricane force winds. The barometric pressure with this storm system dropped to 977 mb in southern Ontario.

7.  October 24, 2001

A squall line of severe t’storms produced widespread straight-line wind damage & one tornado in the viewing area (F0 near Pine Village). Structural damage was reported across Benton County & a television & radio tower were toppled near Chalmers. Damage to grain elevators occurred southeast of Tipton.

8.  October 26, 2010

Narrow squall line, known as a QLCS, raced through the viewing area in the morning. Winds gusted to 80 mph in northern Jasper County & an EF0 tornado occurred in Howard County. An industrial ag building under construction was unroofed at Crawfordsville& a radio tower was toppled northeast of Frankfort.

9.  October 13, 1840

In northern Newton/Jasper counties a severe t’storm & a tornado was observed at a remnant Pottawattomie village. “The sun rose clear, but was soon obscured by scudding clouds, which betokened rain,” according to a hunter on the Kankakee marsh at the village.

By afternoon, ”the sky had become more & more threatening during the time passed in the hut, & the wind was rising”. The tornado was said to have “roared & bellowed like ten thousand maddened bulls. It was something terrific.” It was said to be “a great yellow, curvetting cloud……rolling down the heavens.” Many trees “were snapped ………[sounding] like heavy artillery”. “Wilder& wilder raged the tempest. The driving rain came down in blinding sheets. A flood of water rushed through the wigwam a foot deep.”

“Log poles were bent like reeds” & the Pottawattomies tried with tremendous exertion & a flurry of activity to prevent their huts from being toppled. After the storm, “nature seems to smile [with the sun] from the wreck & desolation everywhere visible.”

10.  October 19, 1937

Severe weather with 2 large barns completely leveled & the chimney & much of the roof of a school was blown off in the vicinity of Rochester. Wind damage with some injuries were reported from Michigan to Ohio & Indiana. Another area of severe weather with tornadoes occurred in Arkansas & Louisiana.

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