Path length: 41.3 miles
Width: 500 yards
County: Henderson (KY) / Vanderburgh, Warrick, Spencer (IN)
During the early morning of November 6, 2005, a devastating tornado traveled just over 41 miles from near Smith Mills, KY through southern Evansville, IN northeast to near Gentryville, IN. The tornado crossed the Ohio River three times. A summary via NWS Paducah states that 25 were killed. It was the deadliest tornado to hit Indiana since 1974.
20 of the deaths occurred at a large mobile home park near Interstate 164 on the south side of Evansville in Vanderburgh County. There were 350 mobile homes at the park, 100 were destroyed and 125 damaged. It was a devastating scene. Several bodies were carried almost 200 yards and many were found near a nearby retention pond.
There was an 8-year-old who was found alive in a ditch. He had been trapped under debris for around 12 hours.
In Warrick County, a teenage girl was killed in a vehicle south of Boonville. In DeGonia Springs, three people, including a woman 8 months pregnant died in a mobile home.
There were 230+ injuries. Per the NWS summary, 20 were critical and 63 resulted in hospital admissions. The tornado lasted 45 minutes. It began at 139am CST and ended 224am CST. The picture below is the only known photo of the tornado. It was taken from the webcam at Deaconess Hospital. Image via NWS Paducah.
Per the NWS Paducah summary, at least 500 homes/buildings were completely destroyed or severely damaged. Much of the damage was upper F2 or lower F3 intensity.
Storm Data Entry
Henderson County, KY (#1):
The tornado first touched down in northwest Henderson County and moved rapidly east-northeast across Ohio River bottomland. This fertile bottomland, used primarily for farming, was sparsely populated. A well-defined swath of snapped and uprooted trees was visible by air. An isolated farm house a few miles northeast of Smith Mills was destroyed. A pickup truck at the house was thrown into a field and destroyed. Due to the winding course of the Ohio River, which forms much of the Kentucky/Indiana border, the tornado crossed the river three times. The first crossing was into a peninsular section of Vanderburgh County, Indiana.
Vanderburgh County, IN (#1):
This tornado first crossed into Vanderburgh County, Indiana from Henderson County, KY at a peninsula formed by the Ohio River just west of Henderson. This peninsula is Ohio River bottomland primarily used for farming. From the air, scour marks were clearly visible on farmland. There were very few structures impacted in this small part of the county. A two-story house built in 1875 sustained major roof damage. Tree branches were embedded into the house. One farm equipment shed was demolished, and another sustained major damage. A 10,000-pound truck was flipped over. Heavy farm equipment was moved several feet. The tornado crossed the Ohio River back into Henderson County in a sparsely populated flood plain, used mostly for farming.
Henderson County, KY (#2):
The tornado that would cause mass casualties in the Evansville, Indiana area crossed the Ohio River a second time. This second crossing was from Vanderburgh County, Indiana into Henderson County. The tornado then crossed the river a third time less than a mile west of the U.S. Highway 41 twin bridges. The river does not form the state line at the third crossing. From the bridges, extensive tree damage was visible along both sides of the Ohio River. Almost immediately after crossing the river, the tornado slammed into a horse racing facility named Ellis Park. There was extensive damage to grandstands and housing facilities for jockeys. A few race horses were killed. This facility was the first major facility to be impacted by the tornado. All of the Henderson County tornado injuries were at Ellis Park. The tornado then crossed back into Vanderburgh County, Indiana after striking Ellis Park.
Vanderburgh County, IN (#2):
The tornado crossed into Vanderburgh County from Henderson County, KY a second time near Ellis Park, a horse-racing facility off U.S. Highway 41. The tornado moved rapidly east-northeast at close to 60 MPH, staying a mile or less south of Interstate 164 and the southern city limit of Evansville. Twenty people perished at a large mobile home park on the south side of the interstate. Of about 350 mobile homes in the park, 100 were destroyed and another 125 were damaged. Many of the destroyed homes were obliterated. The coroner reported that most of the victims were probably killed instantly, many by spine and skull fractures. Several bodies were carried almost two hundred yards. Several of the fatally injured persons were found in a nearby retention pond that was drained to find victims. An 8-year-old child was found alive in a ditch after being trapped under debris for about 12 hours. One person, who was thrown 150 feet, died of complications from tornado injuries on December 17. The tornado exited into Warrick County at the Angel Mounds State Historic Site, just south of Interstate 164.
Warrick County, IN:
This tornado, which crossed into Warrick County from Vanderburgh County just south of Interstate 164 (at Angel Mounds), crossed the entire county in less than 20 minutes. The tornado reached its peak intensity in Warrick County, where winds reached about 200 MPH. The peak winds occurred along Highway 261 and Lincoln Road, in an industrial park near Paradise, and in DeGonia Springs. As the tornado passed south of Boonville, the county seat of Warrick County, a teenage girl was killed in a vehicle. In the community of DeGonia Springs, three persons in a mobile home were killed. One of the victims was a woman who was 8-months pregnant. From the north side of Newburgh to DeGonia Springs, houses were severely damaged or destroyed, and vehicles were tossed. Some of the tornado victims were moved 40 feet or more. The tornado passed just to the south of Tennyson before exiting into Spencer County.
Spencer County, IN:
The tornado crossed into Spencer County from Warrick County just before dissipating. Some tin and insulation was found in a field at the end of the tornado track. The tornado was estimated to have weakened to F-0 strength shortly before it entered Spencer County.
Radar and Damage Photos via NWS Paducah
Image via NASA
We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the November 2005 Storm Data Publication and a NWS Paducah summary of the event and found the following differences:
- The summary states there were 25 fatalities.
- Remaining sources list 24 fatalities.
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