Sunday, April 3, 2011

Recalling The Nation's Biggest Tornado Outbreak On Record...The 1974 Super Outbreak

April 3, 1974 is a date that those in the weather community will always remember.  It was an unseasonably warm day as a strong low pressure moved through the Corn Belt.  This unseasonably warm air and a combination of several other factors would come together just right to produce a spectacular severe weather event, leaving hundreds dead, thousands wounded and an incredible amount of destruction across a number of states. 

The first tornado in the state touched down in Boone county in the early morning.  21 of the 148 tornadoes occurred here, including 1 F5 and the devastating Monticello tornado.  The thunderstorm cell which produced the Monticello tornado produced its first Indiana touchdown near the Illinois state line in rural Warren county.  This tornado died out but was followed by another touchdown in Warren county.  That tornado tracked northeastward into southeastern Benton county before dissipating near Otterbein.  Another tornado followed almost immediately, moving quickly northeast through the northwestern part of Tippecanoe county and into White county.  As the tornado passed northwest of Lafayette, the 2200z METAR from KLAF included a report of a tornado:

METAR KLAF 032200Z 16025G33KT 7SM TS SCT040 BKN070 OVC150 23/17 A2914 RMK TB44 W MOVG E LTGIC W-N PRESFRLAF3/16 STATE POLICE RPT AT 2151 5TORNADO SLP864 T02280172

The tornado continued through mostly rural areas of White county before taking aim on downtown Monticello.  Heavy damage occurred in Monticello with several fatalities.  But it was not done...

The tornado continued northeastward through Cass county and Fulton county, where it produced significant damage in Rochester.  It proceeded through Kosciusko, Noble and LaGrange counties before finally ending its incredible 109 mile reign of terror near Oliver Lake.  The same thunderstorm produced another weaker tornado near Plato, which would be the final tornado in Indiana from this particular thunderstorm.

In all, 47 Hoosiers died that tragic day with hundreds more injured.

Approximate Tornado Tracks

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