SPC Stats

Path length: 19 miles

Width:  200 yards

Fatalities:  0

Injuries:  55

Rating:  F4

County:  Wabash, IL / Knox, IN

Tornado Path

Click Map To Enlarge

SPC coordinates:  Start: 38.48 / -87.78: End: 38.62 / -87.43

Corrected Coordinates based on damage reports:

Start: 38.494577/-87.762363     End: 38.640940/-87.448921

Veer in path: 38.546473/-87.674497    

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Map created by Dr. Fujita showing the F-Scale rating through Allendale, the fuschia shaded areas is where F4 damage occurred.

Six tornadoes were produced during the late afternoon/early evening of January 7, 1989. The most significant twister of the day hit the small town of Allendale, IL, in Wabash County. Per the Storm Data Narrative from January 1989, “much of the town was obliterated.” Fifty-five people were injured along the 22-mile path.

Aerial image taken by Dr. Fujita showing the path of devastation across town.

The tornado developed four miles southwest of Allendale. As it moved northeast, no damage occurred until it reached about one mile southwest of town, where two farm homes were ripped apart. It continued northeast, and suction vortices raked at the barren farm field, leaving swath marks made from crop stubble.

Aerial image of the farm one mile SW of Allendale. Photo from the January 1989 Storm Data Publication.
Photograph via Dr. Fujita showing the suction vortex markings in the field.

Now at peak intensity, the twister roared across Adams Road at the intersection with South Division Street in the southwestern corner of Allendale. Four homes were swept completely off their foundations. Two suction vortices, moving in opposite directions, strewed the debris from these dwellings in different trajectories. The Crites’ house was blown westward across South Division Street into a field and bordering ravine. Ms. Crites actually fled the structure and took shelter in this ravine, and emerged with just minor injuries.

Henry Coomer, his wife and kids were in their home when it was thrown onto Route 1 approximately 70 yards away. The threesome tumbled from the debris and landed against a car that was stopped on the highway. Mrs. Coomer was dropped in their backyard. The family all survived with varying degrees of injuries.

Aerial image via Thomas Grazulis in his book F5-F6 Tornadoes showing the homes that were swept away. The arrows show the direction in which the houses were strewn.
Aerial photograph of the homes taken by Dr. Fujita.
Grainy photo from the January 1989 Storm Data Publication showing the houses along South Division Street.
Grainy photo from the January 1989 Storm Data Publication showing the houses along South Division Street.
Ground level image of one of the swept away homes, taken from the Illinois ESDA video.

About 100 yards to the north in the Galliatt Addition subdivision, a few homes were destroyed, and several more received light to moderate damage. A farm just west of here, on South Division Street, was torn apart.

Aerial shot of Galliat Addition and the farm, image taken from the Illinois ESDA Video.
Grainy photos via the January 1989 Storm Data Publication.

The tornado crossed Route 1, where it blew down the “Allendale Population 600” sign. A few cars were tossed off of the highway, and at least one motorist was injured. It continued into town, where it chewed apart several homes along South and Marshall Streets. Some of these two-story dwellings were leveled to the ground and swept away. Dale Loveless’s house was churned to a pile of rubbish. Thankfully he and his family were not home during the storm.

A home at the south edge of town that was swept away. A tree was thrown into the empty foundation. Snapshot from the Illinois ESDA video.
Photo via Storm Data showing the damage across the southside of Allendale.

The twister devastated the business district on Main Street. The post office was partially unroofed and had all of its windows smashed. Fifty yards away, a mobile home was tossed onto a neighboring mobile home and some cars. Nearby, a newly built apartment had parts of its walls and roof stripped open. The Allendale City Hall and the Allendale Fire Station were both leveled. Historic stained glass windows were busted at the First Christain Church, with the adjoining parsonage receiving significant damage. Other notable places in the main drag of town that were struck include the Masonic Lodge, Old Brick Lodge, First National Bank, and Ingram Funeral Home.

The destroyed mobile home, image taken from the Illinois ESDA video.
The newly built apartment that was damaged. Image taken from the Illinois ESDA video.
Another view of the apartment, image taken from the Illinois ESDA Video.
The destroyed fire station, image taken from the Illinois ESDA Video.
Damage in downtown. Image taken from the Illinois ESDA video.
A car along main street that was crumpled. Image taken from the Illinois ESDA video.
A home that was battered, but still standing. Image taken from the Illinois ESDA video.
Images from the January 1989 Storm Data Publication.

The twister delivered one last devastating blow along North 3rd Street before it exited the town. The three-story brick home of Phillis and Paul Bates was flattened; the only thing left standing was the lower part of a fireplace. An oil tank was torn from its anchoring and rolled 150-200 yards, and a neighboring house was swept away. The twister slashed into the Allendale School. The upper floor was removed from the southern part of the institute. On the northern side of the school, the gymnasium walls crumbled. A few buses were also damaged. At the school’s baseball field, the steel “cyclone fence” backstop was mangled, and several light poles collapsed.

A home on North 3rd Street that was demolished. Image taken from the Illinois ESDA video.
A house that was moved off its foundation. Image taken from the Illinois ESDA video.
A home on North 3rd Street was thrown onto its side. Image taken from the Illinois ESDA video.
The oil tank that was tumbled 150-200 yards, a house that was swept away can also be just above where the crumple tank landed. Image taken from the Illinois ESDA video.
The battered school. Image taken from the Illinois ESDA video.
A view inside of the gymnasium. Image taken from the Illinois ESDA video.
The mangled backstop. Image taken from the Illinois ESDA video.
Images via the January 1989 Storm Data Publication.

In Allendale, a total of 52 homes were demolished and 54 were damaged. Ten businesses, two churches, and one school were damaged or destroyed as well. There were at least 50 injuries in town. Allendale Mayor Jack Loeffler was quoted in the January 8, 1989 copy of the Evansville Press “You cannot believe there are no fatalities”.

The twister crossed the Wabash River into Knox County, IN, about 2.5 miles NE of Allendale. Most of the 15-mile path in Knox County was in rural farm fields, where 25-30 barns were destroyed. The funnel skirted past Saint Thomas, where the trailer of Timothy Thomas and his girlfriend Lou Ann Murphy was tossed 60 feet and leveled. The couple was injured.

As the tornado crossed U.S 43, three miles south of Vincennes, it tore into the Snider house. The family took cover in the basement and emerged from the rubble, uninjured. Snider’s Auto Body Shop, located nearby, was also damaged. The tornado then moved along Henry Sievers Road as it passed south of Vincennes. Along the highway, 30 homes were ripped apart or unroofed. Three people were injured on Henry Sievers Road; two of the injuries occurred when a tree fell onto a car. The twister just missed the Vincennes Lincoln High School by less than ¾ mile, where 2500 people were attending a basketball game. The twister finally ended its 22-mile-long tirade about 3.5 miles southeast of Vincennes, about one mile east of the Lincoln High School.

Additional Newspaper Clippings

Video

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the January 1989 Storm Data Publication and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC have a 19 mile path.
  • Storm Data and Grazulis have a 22 mile path.

Width:

  • Grazulis has a width of 150 yards.
  • Remaining sources have a 200 yard width.

Start Time:

  • SPC/NCDC have a start time of 1724 CT.
  • Storm Data and Grazulis have a start time of 1719 CT.

        Sources:

        The Storm Prediction Center

        January 1989 Storm Data Publication

        NCDC Storm Events Database Entry-Wabash County (IL)

        NCDC Storm Events Database Entry-Knox County (IN)

        Google Earth

        Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1285.

        Grazulis, T. P. (2001). F5-F6 Tornadoes. United States: Tornado Project.

        “Memoirs of Effort to Unlock the Mystery of Severe Storms during the 50 Years, 1942-1992,” by Fujita, T. Theodore, Wind Research Laboratory Research Paper Number 239, 1994. https://swco-ir.tdl.org/handle/10605/262046

        Illinois Emergency Services and Disaster Agency videos

        January 8, 1989, Evansville Press

        January 9, 1989, Daily Republican Register

        January 9, 1989, Muncy Evening Press

        January 9, 1989, The Daily Dispatch (Mollie IL)

        January 10, 1989, Daily Republican Register

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        Note:  There are some images/videos in our summaries that were licensed to us to be used only on this website. If you would like to use an image/video in your project or blog, please contact us and we will grant permission if possible.

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