At Least 12 Dead In Indiana Storms

Heavy Damage Reported In S. Indiana Communities

The death toll was rising Friday night in the aftermath of a series of tornadoes that ripped through southern Indiana.

The Ripley County Sheriff's Department told WCPO that four people had died in that county. The ISP post in Versailles confirmed that at least three people died in Holton, in Ripley County, and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security confirmed there were three more fatalities in the community of Chelsea, in Jefferson County. Entire homes in that county are missing, officials said.

WHAS reported that at least one person had been killed in Clark County. Multiple people are unaccounted for in Henryville after a tornado ripped through the southern Indiana town just off Interstate 65, ISP Capt. Dave Bursten said.

About 80 students were still at school when the tornado barreled toward Henryville Junior Senior High School. The school implemented its tornado plan, and everyone hunkered down as the storm ripped through the building. Everyone survived.

Many people were wandering around the town of 2,000 people in shock, RTV6's Chance Walser reported.

Helicopter images from Henryville showed that numerous homes were damaged or destroyed and some had been wiped from their foundations. People are feared trapped in their homes in that community and in Memphis, also in southern Indiana. Ambulances moved slowly on streets covered with debris.

Authorities reported widespread damage in several other communities, and a sheriff's official said the town of Marysville, just east of Henryville, is "completely gone."

Indiana Task Force One was called to help with search operations in southern Indiana. All lanes of Interstate 65 in southern Indiana were shut down in Clark County.

Gov. Mitch Daniels said he plans to tour storm-damaged areas on Saturday.

“Once again, Mother Nature has dealt harshly with Indiana. Our every thought is with those we’ve lost and those who have suffered. We’ve learned so much and improved so much in disaster preparedness, warning systems and responder communications, but still we are no match for Mother Nature at her worst. We’re hopeful that we know the full extent of the damage, but it will be (Saturday) before we can give a final report with any confidence," Daniels said.

Storms Not As Strong In Central Indiana

Central Indiana largely avoided the wrath of an epic day of severe weather across several states.

The second round of storms passed through the Indianapolis area with some fanfare, but no damage was reported.

Reports of rotation prompted the issuance of a tornado warning in Boone and Hamilton counties Friday afternoon, but officials in those counties said there were no confirmed touchdowns, and the storm showed little rotation on Storm Team 6 radar.

Indiana was on the northern fringe of a dangerous weather situation that began unfolding across several states as a potent storm system pushed through the region.

The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center placed parts of southern Indiana in a high risk area for severe weather, including the Columbus area southward.

High risks are particularly rare. Just five high risk areas were issued last year in the entire U.S.

A large part of Indiana, including the Indianapolis area, was placed in a moderate risk zone for severe weather through the evening as the secondary line of thunderstorms approached.

The severe weather threat ended from west to east with the passage of the second round of storms.

Strong winds, large hail and tornadoes, some of them strong and long-tracked, were expected in southern Indiana and south of the state.

Up to golf ball-sized hail was reported in an initial line of storms that moved into Indianapolis around 11 a.m., prompting numerous storm warnings along the line.

Pea-sized hail fell in downtown Indianapolis, but larger hail fell southwest and south of downtown and in some counties west of the city.

Stay with Storm Team 6 and TheIndyChannel.com for the latest information.