Tornadoes can happen at any time of year, but spring is especially conducive for them. They are triggered by unstable air that warms closer to the ground and cools aloft.
Hoosiers can take steps to prepare for a tornado by staying weather aware and taking shelter when necessary. This means identifying safe places to shelter, like basements and storm cellars.
There were several F4 storms that hit Western Indiana on Sunday, December 13, 2013. They destroyed a number of homes in Newton County.
These tornadoes swept through the state line area and northern Newton County, destroying farm buildings. They caused no deaths and only minor damage.
One tornado entered Illinois and moved westward, destroying a small farm house south of Hedrick. It then crossed into Indiana and destroyed more farm houses in Hendricks County.
Another tornado struck Hendricks County, ripping apart the town of Coatesville and leveling the town’s mayor’s home. It also ripped apart the town of Danville and leveled a large industrial building in Amo.
The last tornado to hit Indiana was an F4 that entered the state from Illinois and ravaged Starke, Marshall, St Joseph and Elkhart counties. It tore through Koontz Lake, demolishing cottages and damaging a few other buildings.
In the early evening hours of May 14, 2003, a storm system developed in Boone County and quickly moved northeast. It was accompanied by multiple tornadoes that impacted the area.
One of the storms produced an F4 that spawned a 106 mile path from Illinois to Huron, Indiana. This was one of the most devastating tornadoes to hit the state during that time.
After the initial storm weakened, another one sprang up in Van Wert County near Willshire, Ohio and remained on the ground for 53 miles. It destroyed many buildings in its path including a cinema.
The tornado continued northeast across portions of Paulding, Putnam, Defiance, and Henry Counties. It leveled parts of the town of Van Wert and left 15 people injured. Several other homes were also damaged or destroyed along the path. Throughout this area, many trees were toppled.
As a spring storm system approached the Ohio Valley, powerful thunderstorms erupted over southern Indiana and central Kentucky. A half-mile wide tornado ripped through Jefferson, Bullitt, and Spencer counties, producing up to F4 damage (207+ mph winds) along a 30 mile path.
In Indiana, the storm reached F4 intensity south of Ossian, leveling farms and homes as it moved across the state. Moving into Allen County, it touched down just west of Hoagland before moving through Townley where nearly every building was leveled and four people were killed.
The final storm of the day touched down near Petersburg and destroyed half of that community, as well as the mayor’s home. It also caused up to F4 damage in Hamilton County, Ohio.
A few minutes later, a second tornado touched down on the southwest side of West Liberty in Adams County, killing seven people in homes that were completely destroyed. This one moved quickly northeast into Ohio and was rated Level F4 at 3:28 p.m.
The storm system that spawned the Palm Sunday tornadoes also produced a number of F4 tornadoes in Southern Indiana. One of the most destructive of the day occurred at Hamlet in Starke County, where it destroyed 10 homes and injured 82 people.
It moved northeast into Marshall, St Joseph and Elkhart counties destroying numerous homes. It then continued across Koontz Lake, where it leveled cottages and damaged a school building under construction.
Another F4 tornado in the same storm family struck Sullivan, where it tore apart Shelburn and ended three miles west of Cross Plains. It also cut a swath of utter destruction through the north side of New Albany, killing 46 people and destroying hundreds of homes and schools.
In addition to this tornado, another F4 touched down two miles southwest of Bright and entered Ohio two miles east-northeast of Bright. It then swept through Harrison and Mason, where it caused significant damage to several buildings.