Tornadoes Within the City Limits of Lafayette & West LafayetteFebruary 11th, 2013 at 10:03 pm by Chad Evans under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog
I am still working on this……………should have it totally finished later this evening…………..
June 2, 1833
A tornado of up to 1/2 mile wide blasted through Union & Wea Townships south & southeast of early Lafayette in the early morning hours. Trees, fences & barns were completely demolished & thrown great distances.
This tornado occurred after a tornado hit early Cincinnatti, Ohio, April11, 1833, damaging buildlings after “unusually warm weather for the season prevailed across Ohio much of the week prior”. That particular day “strong southerly winds swept over Ohio, but evening found conditions somewhat sultry”.
A tornado hit Nashville, Tennessee in 1833, though I was unable to locate an exact date to link up whether that twister apart of the same system that caused this large tornado in Lafayette.
May 3, 1835
A 1/4 mile wide tornado passed just south of Lafayette (just village at that point) in the evening with heavy damage to “valuable timber” on the night of May 3, 1835. It unroofed a barn near present-day Route 26/U.S. 52 intersection. A two-story brick home was demolished nearby with at least 3 farms being damaged/destroyed. Remarkably only 1 person was reportedly injured.
December 23, 1871
Pre-Christmas tornado hits Lafayette with narrow corridor of rather heavy damage. Damage path was 0.5 miles long & near 0.2 mile wide. Damage resembled high-end EF0 strength with winds to 85 mph.
A newspaper reporter on South Street & corner of Fifth, saw the twister at 12:30 p.m. as the storm blew in. He said it reminded him “of a great screw driven point foremost shot out of a cannon………southwest traveling northeast” with sound like that of a “minnie ball”. From South Second & Columbia to North Street & North 9th, many buildings were damaged, including Trinity Church with debri thrown everywhere, damaging structures on either side of the tornado. General, damaging straight-line wind occurred over a 2-square mile area prior to the twister to the southwest.
The storms passed in the morning as temperatures rose overnight to spring-like levels & a strong, intense surface low passed through northwestern Illinois.
Cold front was very sharp with temperature dropping from around 61 to the 20s very quickly. Interestingly, the morning low on December 21 was -3, but the intense storm pulled a potent chunk of warm air with strong gusty winds included ahead of & behind, the strong cold front that sliced through the area.
At 4:35 p.m., with howling northwest winds here, temperature was down to 29 at Lafayette, while Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania had 67 & Cleveland, Ohio 59.
March 4, 1880
Severe weather outbreak occurred in the viewing area & over a good chunk of Indiana.
A tornado is said to have struck the “northwest side” of Lafayette area. Coming from the southwest, it struck at 9 p.m. & was “600 yards wide”. Splinters of wood were found a “great distance” from the twister as the tornado began on the northwest side of Chauncey, continued northwestward, doing heavy damage to barns & homes, heavily damaging a bridge over Wildcat Creek, then two ice houses, 56’ high 107’ long & 70’ wide (with 2500 tons of ice), were “blown to splinters” with debri blown over a mile. Many stables & farm builders were completely destroyed.
A tornado hit Indianapolis at approximately 10:30 p.m. with substantial damage, while “considerable damage” was reported in Lafayette from very strong winds & heavy rainfall from the storm passage around 10 p.m.
A tornado near Alto, in Howard County killed one & injured 9 when the twister destroyed a house shortly after 10 p.m.
Other damage occurred in Warren, Fountain & Clinton counties with numerous downed trees with outbuildings damaged, even destroyed.
On this same night, a major tornado “caused immense damage” (2 fatalities, numerous injuries) in part of Toledo, Ohio at 11:15 p.m., while tornadoes likely hit Spencer, Indiana at 10 p.m. & Liberty, Indiana “in the early morning hours” of the 5th. A “great loss of property” from damaging winds was reported at Madison, Indiana (just north of Louisville) at 5 a.m.
Widespread wind damage occurred 40 miles southwest of Bloomington, Indiana near Odon. It was written that wind leveled many old buildings & blew down fences & orchards.
This appears to have been a racing squall line with a bulge in the line in the Warren to Howard County areas with an embedded tornado likely at the top of the line kink, which may have produced damage at Lafayette & then the bigger damage at Alto. The storms hit at the same time at Spencer & Lafayette & if you drawn a line they line up nearly due north & south, meanwhile the Howard County storm hit shortly after 10 p.m. with Indianapolis getting hit with a tornado at 10:30 p.m.
November 11, 1911
A QLCS squall line/cool-season derecho blasted the area on November 11, 1911 with the storm striking the Lafayette area at 9:11 p.m. Widespread, damaging straight-line winds occurred across the viewing area. It is highly-like that there were embedded meso-vorticies & LEWPs in the line that caused some brief EFO-EF1 tornadoes to crop up. However, straight-line winds were the primary severe aspect. There were a few embedded stronger EF2-EF3 tornadoes in the line near Fort Wayne & in Michigan.
A tornado was reported in Montgomery & it is highly-likely a low-end EF1 struck Lafayette squarely winds winds of 90 mph.
It looks very similar (in terms of damage & storm mode [QLCS meso-vortex or LEWP]) to a tornado at Paoli, Indiana November 14, 2011: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lmk/?n=nov14_2011
There was straight-line wind damage to trees & powerlines in West Lafayette & a livestock barn was damaged, but the substantial structural damage occurred in a 1.3-mile long & up to 0.2-mile wide path in the city. There was also a stretch of significant straight-line wind damage 4 miles south of Lafayette.
Reports show trees as twisted off in Lafayette, than the toppled & damaged trees in West Lafayette. According to Purdue University, old wind anemometer measured winds of 55 mph, but I am not aware of the exposure or height of this anemometer.
The worst damage was near the levee where streets were totally covered in debri & some structures were nearly destroyed. Otherwise, windows were blown out, buildings unroofed with one heavily damaged & homes to churches received damage. A church roof was swirled & then hurled northwest from North 9th & landed on Cincinnati Street. Trinity Church, damaged in the high-end EF0 in 1871, was damaged again.
March 21, 1913
I originally thought this was a tornado, but much deeper examination points towards a widespread, damaging straight-line wind event with embedded microbursts. This squall line, as it roared through 6-6:30 a.m. produced winds of likely 60-100 mph across West Lafayette-Lafayette area. Damage was widespread in the viewing area, but everything seems to have been blown west to east.
However, a killer likely high-end EF3 to low-end EF4 tornado hit the far south side of Terre Haute on this date, killing at least 19 people & injuring over 200. Many homes were damaged/destroyed there. The damage photos show two-story homes with top floors completely removed & some homes with nothing left but a foundation & porch. This coincides with high-end EF3 to low-end EF4 strength.
Following this, widespread heavy rainfall trained & trained over the area, making any clean-up efforts difficult. It is the training of the heavy rainfall that led to the great Flood of 1913.
June 25, 1978
This tornado, which peaked at F3 strength (old Fujita Scale), clipped the modern southwest city limits of Lafayette. At this time, this area was very rural, unlike now where numerous homes & subdivisions have sprung up. The very rural nature around the tornado track, limited severe damage & likely injuries to fatalities.
Damage was largely to trees, barns & powerlines with a few homes getting unroofed.
4 right-turning supercells producing 7 tornadoes, golfball hail & microbursts in eastern & central Illinois moved into Indiana during the evening. Two F3 tornadoes with path lengths of 18 & 9.4 miles roared through Tippecanoe & southwest Clinton counties. An 80 mph microburst was produced east-northeast of Lebanon. Another supercell produced 1” hail & a funnel cloud in Tipton & Clinton counties. A long-lived supercell with a history of microbursts produced 0.88” hail at Covington before weakening.
My father-in-law explained to me how the storms took the roof off of their grain dryer factory at Beech Grove, Indiana & that the wind blew grain dryers unto I-465, which shut the interstate down.
July 2, 1978
June 24, 1981
July 21, 2003
A squall line with two distinct bows passed through the area on the night of July 20-21, 2003 around 4 a.m. Where two bowing segments linked-up in a Bookend vortex, this tornado was spun with EF0 strength (winds of 85 mph). Another EF0 appears to have struck Battle Ground.
Otherwise, this was a damaging straight-line wind event after what had been a very, very stormy, wet July with flooding rains.
The tornado may have began as far south as Bishop Woods, but was definite with tree & stoplight damage in the neighborhood just southwest of & right at Teal & 18th. Minor damage occurred at Lafayette Jefferson High School with fence damage & the bleachers picked up & thrown counterclockwise by the brief twister. After this, it lifted.