|Date of tornado outbreak:||April 11-12 1965|
|Maximum rated tornado2:||F4 tornado|
|Damages:||$1.6 billion (2007 dollars)|
|Areas affected:||Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio|
1Time from first tornado to last tornado
The second Palm Sunday tornado outbreak occurred on April 11, 1965 and involved 47 tornadoes (15 significant, 17 violent, 21 killers) hitting the Midwest. It was the second biggest outbreak on record. In the Midwest, 271 people were killed and 1,500 injured (1,200 in Indiana). It was the deadliest tornado outbreak in Indiana history with 137 people killed. The outbreak also made that week the second most active week in history with 51 significant and 21 violent tornadoes.
The tornadoes occurred in a 450-mile swath west-to-east from Clinton County, Iowa, to Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and a 200-mile swath north-to-south from Kent County, Michigan, to Montgomery County, Indiana. The outbreak lasted 11 hours and is among the most intense outbreaks — in terms of number, strength, width, path, and length of tornadoes — ever recorded.
This is the third deadliest day for tornadoes on record, trailing the Super Outbreak of April 3, 1974, which killed 315, and the outbreak that included the Tri-State Tornado which killed 747. It occurred on Palm Sunday, an important day in the Christian religion, and many people were attending services at church, one possible reason why some warnings were not received. There had been a short winter that year, and as the day progressed, the temperature rose to 83° F in some areas of Midwestern United States.
|List of reported tornadoes - Sunday, April 11, 1965|
|F4||NE of Tipton||Cedar, Clinton, Jackson||1855||91.5 miles
|1 death - One person died one month later from their injuries. 25 farms were affected.|
|F1||SE of New Hampton||Chickasaw, Fayette, Allamakee||1915||49.9 miles
|F1||SE of Monroe||Green, Rock, Dane||2000||27.1 miles
|50 homes and 65 businesses destroyed or damaged and 40 were injured.|
|F2||S of Watertown||Jefferson||2030||14.5 miles
|3 deaths - 28 others were injured.|
|F1||S of Soldiers Grove||Crawford||2045||13.3 miles
|One barn was destroyed|
|F1||W of Lake Geneva||Walworth||2150||1.9 miles
|F1||NW of Elkhorn||Walworth||2155||1 mile
|One barn was destroyed|
|F1||W of Tomah||Monroe||2214||2 miles
|Several farm buildings were destroyed|
|F4||Crystal Lake||McHenry, Lake||2120||9.1 miles
|6 deaths - Destroyed large sections of the town including a shopping mall. Damage estimates were at about $1.5 million.|
|F2||N of Gurnee||Lake||2150||4.5 miles
|Some homes were damaged and two planes flipped at Waukegan Memorial Airport.|
|About a dozen homes were heavily damaged|
|F3||NE of Knox to S of South Bend||Starke, Marshall, St. Joseph, Elkhart||2245||35.6 miles
|10 deaths - 30 cottages were destroyed and 70 others were damaged. 26 homes, one church and one high school were also destroyed. There were 82 people injured.|
|F3||S of Crown Point to SE of Laporte||Porter, Laporte||2310||33.1 miles
|Several homes and barns were destroyed and 4 people were injured.|
|F4||W of Wakarusa to NW of Middlebury||Elkhart||2315||21.2 miles
|14 deaths - Destroyed Midway Trailer Park in Dunlap and numerous other homes. Was photographed as a double funnel. 1st of 2 tornadoes hitting the town of Dunlap and the Elkhart region.|
|F4||NE of Goshen to W of Orland||Elkhart, LaGrange||2340||21.6 miles
|5 deaths - A dozen homes were demolished|
|F4||Manitou Beach-Devils Lake, Michigan (1st tornado)||Steuben, IN, Branch, MI, Hillsdale, Lenawee, Monroe||0000||90.3 miles
|23 deaths - Starting just south of the Indiana-Michigan state line, the massive tornado caused extensive damage to the Manitou Beach region and southwestern suburbs of Detroit. First of two violent tornadoes to affect the same large portion of Lower Michigan.|
|F4||SE of Lafayette to W of Russiaville||Tippecanoe, Clinton||0007||21.8 miles
|Several homes and other buildings were destroyed or damaged.|
|F4||SE of South Bend to NE of Shipshewana||St. Joseph, Elkhart, LaGrange||0010||37 miles
|36 deaths - Second violent tornado struck the Dunlap/Elkhart region in just over an hour. Destroyed an entire subdivision of the town of Dunlap. Affected rescue efforts after the first tornado.|
|F4||Russiaville to SE of Marion, Indiana and Greentown, Indiana||Clinton, Howard, Grant||0020||48 miles
|25 deaths - Large sections of Russiaville, southern Kokomo and Alto were destroyed. Over 800 people were injured.|
|F4||SE of Crawfordsville to Arcadia||Montgomery, Boone, Hamilton||0050||45.7 miles
|28 deaths - 80 homes were destroyed and over 100 people were injured.|
|F4||W of Montpellier, IN to N of Spencerville, OH||Blackford, IN, Wells, Adams, Mercer, OH, Van Wert||0110||52.5 miles
|4 deaths - F5 damage was observed in Keystone in Wells County. Crossed into Ohio where it destroyed five homes and damaged five others.|
|F4||N of Grand Rapids||Ottawa, Kent||2254||20.6 miles
|5 deaths - 34 homes were destroyed and nearly 200 others damaged. Nearly 150 were injured and damage amounts were estimated at almost $15 million.|
|F1||N of Middleville||Allegan, Barry||0005||19.5 miles
|1 death - A trailer and 5 homes were destroyed while 25 others were damaged.|
|F3||NE of Kalamazoo||Kalamazoo||0030||14.2 miles
|4 homes were destroyed and 22 others damaged. 17 people were injured.|
|15 homes were damaged.|
|F4||Manitou Beach-Devils Lake, Michigan (2nd tornado)||Branch, Hillsdale, Lenawee, Monroe||0040||80.5 miles
|21 deaths - Second tornado to hit the same areas 30 minutes after being affected by the first tornado. Total damage estimates from the two tornadoes were $32 million. Over 550 homes and 100 cottages were destroyed in total.|
|F4||N of Lansing||Clinton, Shiawassee||0115||21 miles
|1 death - Several homes were severely damaged or destroyed.|
|F2||W of Ithaca||Montcalm, Gratiot||0125||15.1 miles
|Several farm buildings and livestocks were destroyed.|
|F2||Alma (1st tornado)||Gratiot||0130||0.1 mile
|One of three tornadoes to struck the area where it caused damage to several buildings including the library.|
|F2||Alma (2nd tornado)||Gratiot||0130||0.5 mile
|F2||E of Alma||Gratiot||0130||1 mile
|F2||SE of Bay City||Bay||0150||9.9 miles
|F2||SW of Unionville||Tuscola||0200||9 miles
|Damage to a firehall and lumberyard.|
|F4||Toledo (northern sections)||Lucas, OH, Monroe, MI||0230||5.6 miles
|18 deaths - Numerous homes in the northern suburbs of Toledo were completely destroyed. There were reports of twin tornadoes during the event. Damage amounts were estimated at $25 million.|
|F4||N of Lima||Allen, Hancock||0230||32.5 miles
|F4||N of Sidney||Shelby||0300||18.4 miles
|3 deaths - Affected Anna, Swanders and Maplewood where 25 homes were destroyed and 20 others heavily damaged. Several train cars were derailed.|
|F3||SE of Tiffin||Seneca||0315||15 miles
|4 deaths - Affecting Rockaway, 4 homes were destroyed and three others were damaged.|
|F4||S of Oberlin, Ohio to Strongsville||Lorain, Cuyahoga||0405||22 miles
|18 deaths - Extensive damage to Pittsfield and Strongsville. Damage amounts were estimated at $5 million.|
|F1||S of Eaton||Preble||0415||0.1 mile
|One home was destroyed and another one was damaged.|
|F2||N of Delaware||Union, Delaware, Morrow||0430||22.2 miles
|F1||S of Cedarville||Greene||0450||0.1 mile
|F1||Ashville to Somerset||Pickaway, Fairfield, Perry||0530||38.4 miles
|Several farm buildings were destroyed.|
|F1||SW of Grassdale||Bartow||0950 (04/12)||2 miles
|F2||N of Princeton||Mercer||1130 (04/12)||0.1 mile
At around 12:55 P.M., the first tornado of the day occurred in Clinton County, Iowa. It was an F4 on the Fujita scale of severity. It was spawned from a thunderstorm cell first detected near Tipton in Cedar County, Iowa, around 12:45 P.M. by radio news reporter Martin Jensen at the WMT Stations in Cedar Rapids, some 50 miles northwest of Tipton. The station was equipped with a Collins Radio aviation radar that was mounted on the roof of the station building and used to support severe weather reports on local and regional newscasts. After detecting the strong and very tall thunderstorm, the reporter called National Weather Service offices in Waterloo (which had no radar) and Des Moines to alert them to the storm. His call was to become the first solid evidence obtained by the Weather Service on the growing severe storms that spawned dozens of tornadoes over the next 12 hours.
A tornado occurred at Crystal Lake, Illinois, where it destroyed several subdivisions and a golf course. It grazed a junior high school before destroying several homes in a community called Colby's Home Estates. 145 homes were damaged - 45 beyond repair - as well as a shopping centre. Five people were killed. The tornado then overtopped a hill and destroyed the small community of Island Lake, killing one more person before ascending back into the clouds at 3:42 P.M. This was one of a handful of F4 tornadoes that occurred during this outbreak.
Later in the day, the tornadoes became more numerous. Several tornadoes touched down in Indiana, and many of them were lethal. Some individual supercells spawned as many as 5 violent tornadoes as they raced from west to east. The first touched down at around 5:30 P.M. in Koontz Lake, Indiana. This massive F4 killed 10 people and injured 180. This tornado then moved northeast toward La Paz and Lakeville where it destroyed a brand new high school that was still under construction. The tornado then moved into Wyatt and destroyed twenty homes.
Another violent tornado formed near the St. Joseph County-Elkhart County border and moved east-northeast, first striking Wakarusa, Indiana, where it killed a child. Then it moved toward the towns of Nappanee, Goshen, and Dunlap. Elkhart Truth reporter Paul Huffman captured a spectacular series of photographs as this double tornado moved past Goshen, IN; one of these photos is pictured above right. The Palm Sunday Tornado Memorial Park now exists near this location, at the corner of County Road 45 and Cole Street in Dunlap.
One-half hour later, a second tornado devastated the Sunnyside Housing addition and the unoccupied Sunnyside Mennonite Church. The death toll from the Sunnyside tornado was over 20 people. Most of the 36 people killed in the tornado had no warning because the high winds had knocked out the telephone and power grids. For the first time in the U.S. Weather Bureau's history, all nine counties in the northern Indiana office's jurisdiction were under a tornado warning. This is called a "blanket tornado warning." Both tornadoes were officially rated as F4 according to the National Weather Service records. However, the second Dunlap tornado was previously rated F5.
Ninety miles to the south, at just past 7:30PM, another massive tornado slammed into the town of Russiaville, Indiana. Most of the town was destroyed, leaving several dead. The storm churned into nearby Alto, obliterating it completely, before striking the southern edge of the larger city of Kokomo. As the tornado continued east, it killed ten more people in Greentown, Indiana, most of whom had been riding in automobiles that were hurled across the landscape. More destruction ensued in Marion, Indiana, before the storm crossed into Ohio.
|All deaths were tornado-related|
With the telephone lines down, emergency services in Elkhart County, Indiana, could not warn Michigan residents that the tornadoes were headed their way. The radar operator at the U.S. Weather Bureau, at Detroit Metro Airport, observed that the thunderstorms over northern Indiana and western Lower Michigan, were moving east-northeast at 70 mph (112 km/h). In Michigan, tornadoes hit as far north as Kent County, Michigan, just north of Grand Rapids. Out of the southernmost counties of Michigan, all but three (Berrien, Cass, and St. Joseph counties) were hit. Two F4 tornadoes struck Hillsdale County and destroyed about 200 cottages along Baw Beese Lake. It was said many people were saved as they were in church instead of out by the lake. Later, the Manitou Beach-Devils Lake area in Lenawee County was hit by two tornadoes (one an F4) in a span of a little more than 30 minutes, causing numerous fatalities (including a family of six). One of the buildings leveled was the local dance pavilion on Devils Lake, which had just recently been rebuilt after having been destroyed by a fire on Labor Day of 1963. One of the twisters went on to damage parts of Onsted; in the nearby village of Tipton, which suffered a direct hit, 94% of the town's buildings were damaged or destroyed.
Tornadoes continued from Indiana into Ohio, and additional fatalities occurred across the border. A double tornado was sighted near Toledo, Ohio and that system devastated northern parts of the city with F4 damage. Five people were killed when a tornado flipped over a bus on the Detroit-Toledo Expressway (today's Interstate 75). Other violent tornadoes occurred near the Indiana/Ohio border.
At around 11 P.M., another violent tornado touched earth in Lorain County, Ohio and slammed into Pittsfield, Ohio, killing seven and destroying most structures. The same tornado caused severe damage to homes in Grafton. By the time the storm got to Cleveland, Ohio, the storm "appeared to have split into two paths about a 1/2 mile apart." Several witnesses also saw two funnels merging into one similar to the Dunlap tornado. Large trees laying 50 feet apart were felled lying in different directions. The storm also displayed F4 damage near Strongsville where homes literally vanished. This tornado killed 18 people and was also previously rated as an F5 before being lowered to an F4 by NWS officials.
The last tornado of the day occurred at 12:30 A.M. on April 12. It moved along a 30-mile path south of Columbus, Ohio, causing F2 damage.
The U.S. Weather Bureau later investigated why so many people died in this event. Radar stations were few and far between in 1965, so tornadoes were identified by the characteristic shape of "hook echoes", but the danger in this storm was identified in plenty of time. The real answer was simple: the warning system failed. The Bureau disseminated the warnings quickly, but the public never received them. Additionally, the public did not know the difference between a Forecast and an Alert. Thus the current Tornado watch and Tornado warning program was implemented because of the terrible death toll from the Palm Sunday outbreak. Pivotal to those clarifications was a meeting in the WMT Stations studio in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Officials of the severe storms forecast center in Kansas City met with WMT meteorologist Conrad Johnson and News Director Grant Price. Their discussion led to establishment of the official "watch" and "warning" procedures in use since 1965.
Dr. Ted Fujita discovered suction vortices during the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak. It had been believed the reason why tornadoes could hit one house and leave another across the street completely unscathed was because the whole tornado would "jump" from one house to another. However, the actual reason is that most of the destruction is caused by suction vortices: small, intense mini-tornadoes within the main tornado.