Remembering the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak

TIPPECANOE CO., Ind. – (WLFI) Blue skies and sunshine describe the weather Friday afternoon, but it wasn’t the same picture 49 years ago for the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak on April 11, 1965.

A total of 47 tornadoes swept through the Midwest with 10 of them in Indiana. There was one that touched down in southeast Tippecanoe County and another in Montgomery County.

“Both were F4s, both had a width up to one mile and both have been considered to be F5s or EF5s. That has been revisited several times,” said News 18’s Chief Meteorologist Chad Evans.

More than 1,200 Indiana residents were injured and 137 were killed in the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak.

“Russiaville, 90 percent of the town had buildings and homes that were damaged or destroyed. We had homes completely obliterated with just foundations left and debris strung for miles,” explained Evans.

On Nov. 17, 2013, Indiana had 30 tornado touchdowns, making it the second largest tornado outbreak in the state’s history. Nobody was killed in Indiana during that outbreak.

Carroll County Emergency Management Agency Director Dana Jeffries said he believes advanced technology is helping people be more aware when there is severe weather.

“The mass notification to the public is probably greatly increased by use of cell phones, text messages and Nixle alerts,” said Jeffries.

Jeffries said social media and weather alerts sent directly to cell phones allows people to take action immediately.

Meteorologists now have ways to forecast the potential for severe weather days in advance. Radar can detect rotation in a thunderstorm, unlike radar images in the 1960s and 1970s.

“In 1965, radar imagery was very primitive at the time. You could not really tell whether it was producing a tornado,” explained Evans.

“People are more in tune with what’s going on around them now more than they used to be, but it all falls right back to technology, tv, phones, Internet,” said Jeffries.

Jeffries said he is interested to see what technology has in store for us in 10 years. The most important thing is the public’s safety.

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