INDIANAPOLIS — Some of the latest data from the National Weather Service now shows 19 tornadoes touched down in Indiana in a series of twisters that claimed five lives Friday night.
NWS confirmed a 17th tornado was recorded in Lake County. The EF1 tornado was tracked from Merrillville into the Hobart/Green Acres area. Grant County tornados that hit Swayzee and Gas City made for the 18th and 19th.
Tornado strength is measured by the EF scale, which goes from EF0 to EF5. According to NWS, a EF2 or EF3 is considered a strong tornado. An EF4 or EF5 is considered a violent tornado. EF3 was the highest level reached in Friday’s storms, but it’s possible that could change based on updated NWS data.
EF3 Tornadoes – Sullivan, Monroe, Johnson, Grant and Owen counties
The strongest category of tornadoes was seen in Sullivan, Monroe, Johnson, Grant and Owen counties. The EF3 in Sullivan County killed three people: 61-year-old Susan Horton and her 38-year-old son Thomas Horton, as well as 47-year-old Shane Goodman.
NWS estimates the peak winds reached in Sullivan were 155 mph, and the tornado traveled for nearly 8 miles. According to Sullivan’s mayor, about 200 structures were damaged in the county. Governor Eric Holcomb declared a state of emergency for Sullivan County.
The second EF3 was also deadly, killing two people at McCormick’s Creek State Park in Owen County late Friday. Officials confirmed Rossville couple 53-year-old Brett Kincaid and 47-year-old Wendy Kincaid died in the storm.
“They have two beautiful kids. Huge in their church community. Very very loved couple. They loved camping and went any chance they could. If you could imagine the perfect couple, it was them,” said a loved one.
NWS believes the EF3 then traveled northeast from the park to northwest Monroe County. Estimated peak speeds are 138 mph.
A tornado that ripped through Whiteland in Johnson County was originally reported as a EF2 but upgraded to an EF3 after 140 mph max wind speeds were determined.
At least 15-20 homes have been completely destroyed in the Whiteland area, and nearly 50 power poles are down. Power is expected to be out for several days. Fortunately, no one was reported injured. A state of emergency was declared overall for Johnson County by Gov. Holcomb.
A tornado that struck Gas City in Grant County and provided substantial damage to buildings and homes was added on Monday afternoon and measured as an EF3.
EF2 Tornadoes – Allen, Benton, Clinton, Grant, Morgan
NWS confirmed six EF2 tornadoes ripped through Indiana.
The downtown Martinsville area in Morgan County also saw some major damage, including one of the oldest churches in the area. First Presbyterian Church lost its steeple in the EF2 tornado.
There were also two EF2 tornadoes in Benton County — one in Oxford and one in Fowler. The majority of the damage there was downed trees and power lines. A wind farm was also damaged in the Fowler area.
A tornado that struck Colfax in Clinton County was originally reported as an EF1 but has since been upgraded to an EF2 due to wind speeds reaching 120 mph.
Fort Wayne in Allen County also suffered an EF2.
A tornado that hit Swayzee in Grant County and caused damage to several buildings was also measured to be an EF2.
EF1 Tornadoes in Cass, Howard, Jasper and Lake counties
Four Indiana counties in the northern half of the state experienced EF1 tornadoes.
Here are the areas primarily affected:
- Royal Center in Cass County
- Russiaville in Howard County
- Remington in Jasper County
- Merrillville in Lake County
Most of the damage in the counties was structural. Some barns were completely destroyed.
EF0 Tornadoes in Allen, Howard, Johnson, White
Five EF0 tornadoes passed through Indiana, including two in rural Howard County.
Harlan (Allen County), Bargersville (Johnson) and Smithson (White) also had damage from EF0 tornadoes.
Roofs detaching from barns, silos toppling over, and sporadic tree damage was reported among the EF0 damage.
The NWS said it still needs to access the Valparaiso area, so it’s possible the number of confirmed tornadoes could grow.