Local Weather History: Weekly Top 10 Weather List.....Well, Actually 14 On This One

These are the worst tornadoes recorded in each county of our viewing area.

Posted: Aug 30, 2018 5:02 PM
Updated: Oct 9, 2018 2:32 PM

Tippecanoe County

April 27, 1994

This was the 85th tornado of this outbreak that began on the afternoon-evening of April 25 in Colorado & Nebraska.

This outbreak was known for one of the strongest tornadoes in the country that year occurring near West Lafayette; a strong F4 with winds of up to 210 mph. Today, on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, winds over 200 mph would be an EF5, the highest category for tornadoes.

11 homes were totally destroyed by this twister, when it roared through after midnight of the 27th, with 17 sustaining major damage & 7 having minor damage. 88 mobile homes were damaged or destroyed, in addition, 13 multi-family dwellings that sustained heavy damage. Lafayette Venetian Blind & two gas stations near U.S. 52, motel at I-65 & 43 & the State Police Post sustained moderate to heavy damage. This violent twister continued on a 14-mile track from Klondike to southeast of Springboro in Carroll County with material losses that amounted to at least 5 million dollars. Three people were killed & 70 people were injured.

This same storm produced damaging straight-line winds on its northside of up to 70 mph, at Pine Village (northern Warren County) & Templeton (southeastern Benton County), which felled numerous trees. At its end, it produced a 60 mph straight-line wind gust at Flora after making a slight right turn to the east after a continuous northeastward track.

Purdue Univ.: "The Pulaski County and West Lafayette, Indiana tornadoes, April 26-27, 1994: A case of supercell (mesoscyclone) and squall line bow-echo interaction"

Final Report (courtesy of NOAA & UCAR)

This Partners Project teamed the Indianapolis National Weather Service Office and Purdue University to determine the events that led to the formation of the Pulaski County and West Lafayette tornadoes which were not captured in realtime by the Doppler radar tornado warning criteria. Their research showed that the key to the formation of both of these tornadoes is that the inflow into an existing mesocyclone was affected by the outflow from an approaching convective system. In the case of the West Lafayette tornado, the presence of a moderately strong thunderstorm, with some color velocity signature (but below the threshold value for warning) and which was flanked to the south by a bow-echo radar feature, set the stage. The West Lafayette tornado was an F4 event that produced 3 deaths, 70 injuries, and an estimated $3.5 million in property damage along its 14-mile track, while the earlier Pulaski County was an F0 tornado.

Severe storm meteorologists have long recognized that isolated storm cells, ahead of more organized convective lines and clusters, must be monitored very carefully as potential tornado-producing storms. The approach of strong, low-level outflow winds (associated with the bow echo storm) can provide enhanced shear vorticity in a favorable region for the northern storm cell to spin up quickly to the tornado stage. The two cases fit a conceptual model that has been developed from the data set. Any mesocyclone that interacts with an approaching gust front, convective cluster, or cell should be monitored closely for tornadic development. A successful application of this conceptual model occurred on 13 May 1995 when radar data indicated that the collapsing storm had evolved into a bowing reflectivity signature pushing across a strong inflow notch feature. A tornado warning was issued, based on the recognition that the pattern fit the conceptual model, and an F1 tornado was reported a short time later. In this case, as with the ones studied in this project, a strong mesocyclone persisted for a considerable amount of time (45 minutes) before the added trigger of thunderstorm outflow appeared to trigger the tornadogenesis.

Akridge & Agee abstract in their paper, The Pulaski County and West Lafayette, Indiana Tornadoes,April 26-27, 1994: A Case of Supercell (Mesocyclone) and Squall Line Bow-Echo Interaction:

Early experience with the WSR-88D radar data in Indiana has shown that several tornadic events appear to be the result of interactions between thunderstorms, or thunderstorms and outflow boundaries from severe cells. Such interactions can enhance the inflow into storms that are favorably positioned, often increasing the horizontal vorticity of the inflow. This enhancement of cyclonic vorticity on the south boundary of a pre-existing strong thunderstorm can lead to the formation of a tornado cyclone or mesolow, with the potential to produce a tornado. Forecasting or detecting the resulting tornado becomes a much more arduous task due to the difficulty in identifying these interactions in real time. Circulations detected by the WSR-88D radar in the parent mesocyclone are frequently below the threshold levels established for tornadic events that develop in the more classical supercell storms.

Such an event occurred around midnight April 26-27, 1994 in West Lafayette, Indiana. A bow echo associated with an approaching line of severe thunderstorms interacted with a weak to moderate mesocyclone and produced a deadly F4 tornado. Another tornado that occurred earlier in the evening in Pulaski County, 45 miles to the north of West Lafayette, formed under similar conditions.

Utilizing data from the WSR-88D radars in Indianapolis and Chicago, and the WSR-74S radar at Marseilles Illinois, the development of these events are being examined. Detailed analysis of the meteorological data associated with each event will be used to reconstruct the environmental conditions as well as the time and location of specific events associated with cell merger, outflow interactions and the strengthening of the mesocyclone and tornado formation.

Detailed ground and aerial surveys of the tornado tracks (especially the West Lafayette tornado that killed three people and injured over 100) provided a large amount of field survey data that have been analyzed, including unique structural damage in the most intense (F4) areas

https://www.jconline.com/picture-gallery/news/local/2014/04/24/jc-flashback-1994-tornado/8108125/

Benton County

June 10, 1939

Major wind event sweeps southern Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana to Ohio.

Widespread significant wind damage was reported over much of central Illinois to as far south as Salem. Even in Wisconsin, a baby was killed by flying glass at Beloit from extreme wind that damaged many buildings. The line of storms continued eastward.

Tornado (that likely peaked at high-end EF3 to low-end EF4 strength) raced through northwest Benton to southeast Newton counties over a 15-mile path with 1 person killed & 7 people injured on 5 heavily-damaged farms. Damage amounted to nearly $1/4 million dollars (1939 dollars). This tornado began in Iroquois County between Milford & Hoopeston, where 12 people were injured with a track of 25 miles in Illinois. The total tornado track was +35 miles.  The storm was reportedly very intense at Kentland with homes destroyed south & west of there in the tornado path.

Widespread significant wind damage also occurred across Newton, Jasper, Benton & White counties, extending to Lake County around 4 p.m. By 5 p.m., the damaging winds reached Cass County with much property damage.

This was part of a larger outbreak of severe weather with at least 2 tornadoes in Michigan & wind damage reported in Vigo, Delaware, Porter, Marion, Putnam counties. 5 people were injured as the storms swept northwestern & western Ohio with wind damage from William, Fulton & Lucas to Defiance, Wood counties.

6 people were injured in Champaign County. 25 percent of the corn crop was lost in McLean County, Illinois.

White County

April 3, 1974

Super Outbreak of 1974: A long-lived, violent supercell produced damage from eastern Illinois to Warren County then northeastward through Tippecanoe, White, Cass & Fulton counties. An extremely long track tornado was produced with this supercell from Warren to La Grange counties with a large, wedge, multi-vortex twister of F4 strength frequently observed. Rainsville in Warren County experienced damage as the tornado first developed with the first initial touchdown from the storm near Pence.

Monticello was the hardest hit community with significant destruction wrought. The Monticello was the longest-track tornado of the outbreak at 109 miles. The twister narrowly missed Chalmers, but directly hit Monticello, then heavily damaged Rochester& nearly completely destroyed Talma. 8 people were killed in White County & 6 in Fulton. As a testament to the tornado’s strength, the historic White County courthouse was so heavily-damaged, it had to be demolished, a steel railroad bridge was obliterated northeast of town with mangled pieces found in Lake Freeman & railroad ties (weighing 250 lbs. each) were found from this bridge 10 miles away in farm fields. Fish from the Tippecanoe River were reportedly sucked up by the twister & strewn over fields for long distances.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3-MggyK6Os

https://www.weather.gov/iwx/19740403_superoutbreak

https://www.weather.gov/ind/april3_1974tor

https://www.weather.gov/iln/19740403

https://www.spc.noaa.gov/publications/corfidi/74superoutbreak.PDF

Warren County

April 18, 1922

13 people were killed & more than 150 injured by a a strong to violent (EF3/EF4) late afternoon tornado in Warren County from south of Rossville, Illinois to Williamsport. “Many buildings were laid in ruins [in Williamsport]”, according to reports. Numerous farmsteads were also destroyed in the county with the town of Hedrick almost entirely destroyed.

Fountain County

May 12, 1886

At Attica, an EF3 tornado began near West Lebanon & crossed the Wabash River at Attica, destroying 200 homes in the city, killing 5 & injuring 12 people. Eyewitnesses reported it sounded like “the roar of a great waterfall.”

An EF4 tornado was on the ground for at least 30 miles, originating near Armstrong, Illinois, racing across Vermilion County through Rossville, southeast of Ambia (in Benton County), before likely lifting near Boswell. 5 homes were destroyed & 2 were completely obliterated.

Two damaging tornadoes blasted through Tipton County, just missing Tipton by ¾ of a mile & Kempton by ¼ mile. It destroyed the fairgrounds & damaged & destroyed numerous homes & farmsteads, including a well-built two-story brick home. A brick school house was said to have been completely destroyed. “The cries of the injured were heartening and the terror was pictured on every countenance”. One of the tornadoes passed northeast of Tipton, killing at least one person & injuring at least 10. It was also written that widespread damaging winds swept the entire county with the tornadoes with the most widespread wind damage in Prairie Township where “timber & fences suffered terribly”.

Another tornado (likely EF3) roared through White County, causing heavy damage from Monon to Bell Center. Several brick homes were nearly destroyed, owing to the EF3 strength.

Another tornado in Iroquois County, Illinois crossed the stateline into Newton County. This may be the same supercell that produced the EF3 tornado from Monon to Bell Center.

43 people were killed by a large tornado of likely EF4 strength at Anderson, Indiana, while possibly the same tornado leveled homes by EF4 strength north of Redkey, Indiana. Tornado continued all the way to Celina, Ohio where additional homes were completely leveled, showing high-end EF4 strength. This destruction was found over an 88-mile path from just this one supercell t’storm

At least 51 were killed & +100 injured in central Indiana tornadoes alone that day.

Carroll County

April 29, 1963

A tornado touched down in Carroll County at 7:49 p.m. & quickly strengthened to F2 with peak at F3 status. The twister was on the ground for 23 miles. It paralleled Route 25, then made a sudden right turn south of Logansport before lifting southwest of Maconaquah Park in Peru. Amazingly, it avoided all towns& moved mainly over fields & woodland. A few farms were damaged, but there were no injuries. Had it not made the right turn south of Logansport, the city would have been heavily damaged.

Clinton County

April 9, 1953

Two supercells carved a path of destruction across the viewing area. The first one popped an F2 tornado in Newton County, damaging areas near Goodland. The other produced a long-lived, violent F4 with a path across Warren, Tippecanoe, Clinton & Tipton counties. 5 people were killed & 22 injured in Warren County, where some farmsteads were nearly obliterated. The tornado damaged parts of Frankfort & Tipton where 1 person was killed & 6 injured. Interestingly, the first hook echo, with a supercell north of Champaign, was observed with the new, early, pioneering weather radar installation at Champaign.

Image of tornado near present-day I-74 in Champaign County, Illinois & the first hook echo seen on radar from the eastern Illinois-north-central Indiana supercell.

Newton County

April 22, 1912

10 are killed & 27 injured by a late evening tornado (likely peak strength at F4) at Morocco. Another 50 were “bruised by flying debris”. 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.

Jasper County

March 12, 1976

An F3 tracked through Jasper County & another F3 in hit Newton County. The Newton County was the only killer tornado with the 1 death in Newton County.

The WLFI viewing area wasn’t the only region to see tornadoes that day. A tornado damaged part of O’Hare airport in Chicago, killing 2 people. Numerous homes were damaged or destroyed in a tornado in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago & a supercell storm produced a tornado in Kankakee County, before the twister crossed into Newton County.

Interestingly, only 7 days later, an F4 tornado struck Tippecanoe County, injuring 6. Another 2 were injured in Carroll County by this same twister. This was apart of another outbreak which produced 18 tornadoes in Missouri, Illinois & Indiana, killing 8 & injuring 66 total.

Mid-late March 1976 was warm with numerous days in the 60s & 70s, contributing to the April & May-like severe weather.

Cass County

April 19, 1881

Called the “severest tornado & hailstorm to strike Cass County” in the History of Cass County, a half mile wide tornado, frequently accompanied by large hail, tore through Cass County.

Evidence supports peak strength at EF3.  Many buildings & chimney were heavily damaged or destroyed in Logansport with “hundreds” of window glass panes blown out. It is said to have “destroyed everything movable in its tempestuous pathway.” “Tearing up trees” and “demolishing outbuildings” it killed numerous livestock. Reports state that the funnel was full of the tops of trees, shingles, roofs & numerous personal objects were said to have been “carried a long distance through the air.”

A severe windstorm hit Wabash County with damage to buildings, while a tornado hit Evergreen, Indiana (DeKalb County), damaging or destroying 17 buildings.

Montgomery County

TIE:  March 20, 1866 & April 11, 1965

March 20, 1866

In Montgomery County, near 7 p.m., a large (likely solid EF4) tornado roars through Scott Township. Originating “three quarters of a mile north of the southwest corner” & moved “diagonally” across the township. The noise of the twister could reportedly “be heard for miles”. Several homes & farms were “demolished” with others on the edge suffering roof & structure damage. Three children & one wife of a family were killed, while another resident was blown “100 yards & most seriously wounded. Many were more or less injured.” A 12-acre cornfield of A.W. Armstrong was nearly swept clean of stubble & fodder. Debri, machinery, clothes & building material were found “miles away”. A pitched roof of a residence was found 15 miles away from the tornado track. A bureau drawer was found 8 miles from the tornado track & a tin-wash boiler was found in the forks of an oak tree 35’ from the ground. This tornado track is said to have run all the way to near Terre Haute, destroyed vast amounts of timber & killing many animals in its path.

April 11, 1965

The second supercell's F4 tornado carved the 45-mile path from Fountain through Montgomery, Boone & Hamilton counties. 28 people were killed & 136 injured. 11 were killed in Lebanon alone when 54 homes were destroyed.

https://www.weather.gov/ind/palmsuntor

Howard County

April 11, 1965

Palm Sunday Outbreak: Two monster HP supercells produced violent tornadoes that carved 47- & 45-mile paths of destruction across the viewing area.  Supercell #1 carved a 47-mile path with 3 separate violent F4 tornadoes from Tippecanoe to Clinton & Howard counties. 18 were killed & 600 injured in Howard County alone with 90% of Russiaville damaged or destroyed.

https://www.weather.gov/ind/palmsuntor

Pulaski County

April 26, 1994

A second long-track tornado (the other the F4 Tippecanoe-Carroll tornado), with winds of up to 157 mph blasted Pulaski & parts of Fulton County along its 20-mile path. The tornado that the storm produced was labeled an EF2 on the original Fujita Scale, but by today’s revised Enhanced Fujita Scale it would be an EF3. Beginning just southeast of Francesville, the twister continued through Pulaski & far northwest Fulton counties before lifting as it entered far southwest Marshall County. At the end of its track, the storm produced a damaging, very intense microburst, that downed numerous trees& destroyed a storage building (resulted in 50,000 dollars in damage). Although this twister traveled largely over open, rural farmland, it did level several farm buildings & grain bins & one farm house was damaged. Also, a mobile home was lifted up by the tornado & thrown onto a car, destroying both. No deaths or injuries were reported, but damage exceeded 1/2 million dollars. The development of this tornado coincided with an intense hail core in the storm that produced golfball-sized stones (1.75″) north of the tornado track.

Fulton County

June 21, 1951

Large, 1-mile wide violent F3 tornado tears through Pulaski & Fulton County, injuring 2 people & producing $2.5 million in damage (1951 dollars).

Miami County

May 12, 1886

Storms with an embedded apparent tornado struck Peru.  Part of a historic tornado outbreak over central & north-central Indiana,   Wind, large hail & flooding accompanied the storms in Peru that evening, but the tornado hit around 8:30 p.m.  Every smokestack was reportedly demolished in the city, the baseball park was leveled as were "all high fences".  Shade trees were heavily damaged or otherwise toppled, several buildings were unroofed, and telegraph and telephone wires were downed. One of the Howe factory buildings was "completely wrecked".  There was very heavy damage done to stock and grain from the lightning and wind in the county overall.  Based on evidence, rating of EF3 would be assigned to the tornado at the Howe factory & at & near the baseball park.

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