Remembering the April 3, 1974 Monticello Tornado

April 3rd, 2013 at 9:56 am by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog


(3rd & 4th graphics courtesy NWS Northern Indiana)

Super Outbreak of 1974

It was this event that changed tornado classification for ever.  The Fujita scale was developed following this outbreak by Dr. Theodore Fujita in a way to organize this event & classify each tornado’s path of damage.  This scale, albeit recently upgraded, has been the way by which all tornadoes have been classified since.

All past tornadoes have been re-examined & assigned a number in accordance to strength (between 1 & 5) based on the magnitude of the damage.

One of the longest-tracking tornadoes in our nation’s history demolished a good piece of Monticello during this event.  Monticello’s name will live in infamy among our nation’s most destructive tornadoes since 1950.  Xenia, Ohio, Monticello, Indiana & Brandenburg, Kentucky are all communities that were hit directly by strong, violent F4 or F5 tornadoes from the “Super Outbreak”.

This are great links to information on this historic outbreak, including the violent & devastating Monticello tornado:

Just like April 9, 1953 & April 11, 1965, the long-track, violent, Monticello tornado occurred at the triple point of a strong low pressure system.  It was this one supercell t’storm that caused most of the destruction.

Our most notorious, strongest tornadoes all have seemed to occur on a storm systems’ triple point (where an occluded, warm & cold front all meet).

The 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 frequently observed.  Rainsville in Warren County experienced damage as the tornado first developed with the first initial touchdown from the storm near Pence.

Interestingly, the newly-completed, first White County courthouse in Monticello was destroyed by a tornado in May 1836, 138 years later, the courthouse was destroyed again in the Super Outbreak of 1974.

A part of this same severe event, a long-lived, large tornado was reported to have struck Grand Rapids & Kent County, Michigan as well.  Pioneer farmsteads were reportedly leveled with home debri strewn over a mile away.  This was reportedly still a topic of conversation with the earliest settlers of that area in 1881.

7173Indiana Map II



5 Responses to “Remembering the April 3, 1974 Monticello Tornado”

  1. sandy says:

    This happened on my birthday a day I will never forget. I lived in Reynolds but my Grandma lived in Monticello we were so scared for her

  2. Jeana says:

    I remember this like it was yesterday. I was only 4 but it scared the dickens out of me! I can remember my ears popping and the sound like a freight train. I lived right in town by the old KFC (Which was destroyed). It took my swing set too!

  3. Mary Anne Best says:

    I too remember it well. Thanks for remembering Chad!

    MA in REM

  4. Mary Anne Best says:

    I have the memorial booklet.

  5. Jessica says:

    My mom lived in Monticello during that right outside of town……..luckily she was farther out where her house didn’t get as damaged but she remembers. She said the sky was greenish and it was awful “quiet” as she put it. Then she remembers seeing it coming and she took the kids and ran into the storm cellar. Luckily all that got damaged was her windows and some shingles off the house.

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