Path length: 48 miles
Width: 880 yards
County: Clinton, Howard, Grant
There have been 3 notable Palm Sunday Outbreaks.
- March 28, 1920: 37 tornadoes across the Midwest and Deep South.
- April 11, 1965: 45 tornadoes, 17 rated F4. We will be looking at one of those F4s from that day in this summary.
- The most recent Palm Sunday Outbreak occurred March 27, 1994 across the SE US. We have summaries on 2 tornadoes from that day:
The focus of this summary will be on one of 10 tornadoes to hit the state of Indiana during the 1965 Outbreak.
“We were on the 31 bypass just north of the Chrysler Plant in Kokomo. The tornado put us on the median. We were between the center tornado and the tail of the other one. I was in the front seat, something went through the window, glass pelted our faces and head, glass was in our hair. Looked like the car had been sand blasted. Then we drove to the hospital at the south end of Kokomo. Cars were upside down laying on top of buildings…weird. When we drove home through Russiaville, there was straw through light poles. Something you never forget!”
This account from one of the tornadoes that crossed through Central Indiana during the Palm Sunday Outbreak is from my Great Uncle, Brian Henry. Brian was 14 years old and riding in the car with his Mom and Dad. I can only imagine how many more people have similar accounts.
The tornado he was caught up in was an F4 that began near Middlefork and crossed through Russiaville to Alto through the southern part of Kokomo. It continued through Greentown and into the southern parts of Marion and dissipated near Arcana.
Brian mentions, “We were between the center tornado and the tail of the other one.” He very well could have been in the midst of multiple funnels. The Storm Data Narrative states, “pictures and reports of witnesses indicate that two and sometimes three vortices were traveling together.”
Storm Data Entry
Path of tornado damage was continuous from northwest of Mulberry, to Moran, Russiaville, Kokomo, Greentown, Marion, Keystone, Berne, and 18 miles east-northeast of Willshire in Ohio. Momentary ground contact occurred in Tippecanoe County near Odell about 7:02 pm and later just west of US Road 52, west of Mulberry.
Pictures and reports of witnesses indicate that two and sometimes three vortices were travelling together. Average width of damage path was .1 to .2 mile. East of Berne, a second short path of about one mile is definite. The American Red Cross reported destroyed: 736 houses, 70 house trailers, and 495 buildings. Major to minor damage struck 1178 houses, 30 house trailers, 135 buildings, and 106 businesses. Seventy-seven steel electric transmission towers were damaged or destroyed. Some areas were without electricity for two days. Five schools and as many churches were severely damaged or destroyed. Hail up to three inches diameter was reported at Lafayette, Rossville, Middlefork and Marion.
Additional Event Information from Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes
- Over 90% of the buildings in Russiaville were damaged or destroyed, but with little F4 evidence.
- At Alto, and the south edge of Kokomo, the funnel widened to nearly a mile. 100 homes destroyed.
- There was destruction at the Maple Crest apartments. The roofs and upper-story walls of the brick buildings were blown off.
- Tornado may have been its strongest at Greentown.
- 80 homes were destroyed, 10 people died.
- Swaths of debris from groups of leveled homes lay spread out over the landscape.
- 18 people were killed in Howard County, ~600 injured.
- 3 people died in Grant County near Swayze. They died in leveled homes.
- As the tornado passed south of Marion, the VA hospital was unroofed causing 20 injuries.
- The panorama shopping center was blown down.
Photos from the NWS Indianapolis
Image Via the Monthly Weather Review from Jan 1970 (Fujita)
Audio Recorded Inside a Church in Alto as it was being hit by the Tornado
We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the June 1965 Storm Data Publication and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:
- SPC/NCDC have a width of 880 yards.
- Grazulis lists the width at 800 yards.
- SPC/NCDC have a length of 48 miles.
- Grazulis lists the length at 47 yards.
- SPC/NCDC list Clinton, Howard, Grant.
- Grazulis does not have Grant.
NOTE: The Storm Data Narrative does not list specifics for each tornado but groups 3 of them from the same area together. That narrative can be found below the map.
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