Severe Storms, Tornado Leave Damage Behind In Indiana

Numerous Counties Report Storm Damage

More than 60,000 people were left without power as a line of severe thunderstorms and at least one tornado plowed through Indiana Tuesday morning, leaving behind damage in several counties as strong winds pummeled the area.

One house was severely damaged by a confirmed EF-0 tornado along county roads 300 East and 100 North, about three miles northeast of Kokomo in Howard County.

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Witnesses reported a dark cloud enveloping the home, causing the damage, and a visible path that appeared to be from a tornado was apparent.

"You look out every window and you couldn't see anything, it was just total black," said homeowner Dan Wilson. "Then you started hearing steel rip off and it sounded like a freight train coming through. It was loud."

Wilson's stepson was sleeping upstairs in the home at the time.

"I heard the roof start cracking and I rolled over and looked at what time it was. Then as soon as I rolled over, the roof went off and I couldn't see anything with all the insulation flying around," he said.

Another suspected tornado was spotted about 75 miles north-northwest of Kokomo.

A firefighter in Wanatah said he saw a funnel cloud in the area where a barn was destroyed and two homes severely damaged. Pieces of a pole barn at a hydraulics company were found a mile away.

There were reports of several transformer explosions in Greenfield in Hancock County as the storm rolled through with 80 mph winds, ripping the roof off a car wash.

"We've got shingles gone. Six panels of our fence is completely gone. I had a green house completely smashed over," said Greenfield resident Amanda Catron. "We've got the play set, the top of its crashed down and wood flown everywhere. It was pretty intense."

A team from the National Weather Service was also surveying damage there Tuesday afternoon, but said the damage appeared to be consistent with straight-line winds.

Storm sirens began sounding in Indianapolis at 9:15 a.m. as a severe thunderstorm warning was issued. They sounded again at 9:35 a.m. as a tornado warning was issued.

All 48 floors of the Chase Tower downtown were evacuated for a short time at the height of the storm. People took refuge in the building's fallout shelter.

"It was pretty bad up there. The windows were moving back and forth, so it was nasty," said Nick Hoetmer, who works in the building.

There were no reports of serious damage in Marion County, but there were numerous downed trees and power lines, along with scattered minor property damage.

A rug and painting business that was set up under a tent in the parking lot of Castleton Square Mall bore the brunt of the storm.

Mike Reneau, who works for Rug and Art Sale LLC said strong winds tore the tent to shreds.

"It had to be 100 mph wind," Reneau said. "I saw the actual roof of the tent take off, like go up in the air."

The business didn't lose any merchandise, but rugs were drenched.

Nearly every county in a wide swath of central, northern and southern Indiana reported severe wind gusts of up to 70 mph.

There were reports of downed trees and power lines in Hendricks, Boone, Hamilton, Delaware, Shelby, Grant, Wabash, Decatur and Johnson counties.

A communications tower landed on top of an elementary school in Monroe County. Two sixth-grade classes had to be moved after the tower toppled onto Lakeview Elementary School in Bloomington.

More than 44,000 Duke Energy customers were reported without power as of 11:05 a.m. By 1 p.m., nearly 25,000 Duke customers were still in the dark.

About 16,000 Indianapolis Power and Light customers were without power at 10:55 a.m. By 1 p.m., that number was down to 10,500.

A wind gust of 60 mph was reported on Indianapolis' south side. Wind gusts of up to 70 mph were reported in Terre Haute as the storm moved through. A funnel cloud was reported near Crane in Greene County, and another funnel cloud was reported at about 8:45 a.m. east of Rockville in Putnam County.

Wind gusts of up to 70 mph were also reported in Daviess County, with damaging winds reported in Miami, Howard, Delware and Madison counties. A tree fell on a garage in Clay County, but no injuries were reported.

Several severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings were issued as storms moved rapidly toward the Indianapolis area.

The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center placed most of Indiana in a high risk zone for severe weather on Tuesday. High risks are rare, indicating that forecasters had high confidence of a severe weather outbreak.

A very strong cold front is expected to sweep through Indiana during the day. Ahead of the front, ample moisture flowed into the state.

Thunderstorms developed in a volatile environment ahead of the front.

A high wind warning is also in place across much of Indiana through 8 p.m. Outside of thunderstorms, sustained winds of 40 mph are possible, with gusts of up to 60 mph.

The turbulent weather will subside Tuesday evening with the passage of a cold front. Temperatures will be much cooler later this week, with highs expected in the 50s.

Stay with Storm Team 6 and for the latest severe weather information.