A Look Back: The Tornado Super Outbreak of 1974 - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

A Look Back: The Tornado Super Outbreak of 1974

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Map of tornadoes that hit Northern Indiana on April 3, 1974 (Courtesy National Weather Service) Map of tornadoes that hit Northern Indiana on April 3, 1974 (Courtesy National Weather Service)

April 3, 1974 brought one of the most significant severe weather episodes in history. At the time, it was the worst single-event outbreak of tornadoes in the United States. An unprecedented total of 148 tornadoes developed across 13 states. Their paths stretched from Mississippi to Michigan and even to the Canadian province of Ontario. A total of 335 were killed from April 3 through April 4, including 49 people in Indiana, and 6,142 were injured.

Never before have so many, then named F4 (23) and F5 (7) tornadoes been observed and confirmed from a single severe weather event.

In Indiana alone 47 tornadoes struck with one even being an F5 (winds 261–318 mph!).  In Michiana: 1 tornado hit Kosciusko County, 4 in Noble County and 6 tore through Fulton County.

A closer look using the image to the left reveals the furthest traveled tornado churned up ground through much of Michiana. The half-mile wide, F4 tornado traveled an amazing 121 miles.

Among the worst hit areas was the town of Monticello in White County. Much of the town was destroyed including the courthouse, some churches and cemeteries, 40 businesses and numerous homes as well as three schools. It also heavily damaged the Penn Central bridge over the Tippecanoe River. Overall damage according to the NOAA was estimated at about $250 million with $100 million damage in Monticello alone.

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