Fujita Scale: F3 (winds 158-206 mph) Peak wind: 200 mph Path length: 41 miles Width: 400+ yards Fatalities: 23 Injuries: At least 200 (50 critical) Damage: 100+ buildings destroyed or severely damaged Source: National Weather Service In the early-morning hours of Nov. 6, 2005...
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Fujita Scale: F3 (winds 158-206 mph)
Peak wind: 200 mph
Path length: 41 miles
Width: 400+ yards
Injuries: At least 200 (50 critical)
Damage: 100+ buildings destroyed or severely damaged
Source: National Weather Service
In the early-morning hours of Nov. 6, 2005, severe thunderstorms produced a deadly tornado near Evansville, IN, that resulted in 23 fatalities, at least 200 injuries (approximately 50 critical) and 100-plus homes and other buildings being severely damaged or destroyed. It was Indianaâ€™s deadliest tornado since the "Super Outbreak" on April 3, 1974, when a series of tornadoes killed 47 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.
Most of the deaths from the November storm occurred in the 350-unit, 50-acre Eastbrook Mobile Home Park. The remaining fatalities were in neighboring Warrick County. An estimated 17,000 to 27,000 homes were without power. It was the worst tornado-related disaster in the U.S. since May 3, 1999, when tornadoes devastated Oklahoma City and neighboring Moore, destroying more than 8,000 homes. It was part of an outburst of 74 tornadoes that struck parts of Oklahoma and southern Kansas, killing 48 people.
The F3 twister (with wind speeds of 158 to 206 mph) in Indiana started at approximately 1:50 A.M. and crossed the Vanderburgh-Warrick County line between 2:02 and 2:03 A.M. It touched down two miles north northwest of Smith Mills in Henderson County and moved northeast across the Ohio River and across Ellis Park. It stayed south of Interstate 164 in Evansville, flattening the mobile home park, and continued moving northeast into Warrick County through DeGonia Springs and south of Tennyson. It lifted 1Â½ miles south southwest of Gentryville in Spencer County. Peak winds were estimated at 200 mph. It was calculated that the tornado traveled at about 60 mph.
The twisterâ€™s path length was approximately 41 miles and its maximum width was 400-plus yards. It developed in a line of thunderstorms that rolled rapidly eastward across the Ohio Valley. The National Weather Service posted storm warnings for sections of northern Ohio. Tornado warnings were issued for parts of Kentucky and Indiana about 30 minutes before it struck.
Assistant Chief Dale Naylor of the Knight Township Fire Department was the incident commander. His department has 40 members and two stations, one of which was destroyed by the tornado. His jurisdiction covers 15.2 square miles in which there is a daytime population of 60,000 that is reduced at night to 20,000.
"The call was received minutes after the tornado had hit the complex," Naylor said. "The initial alarm consisted of a structure-fire assignment (three engines, one ladder, one rescue and a battalion chief)."
A special call for additional rescue companies was also requested. Eventually, more than 40 fire departments and other emergency agencies responded. Among those participating in mutual aid were the German Township Volunteer Fire Department, McCutchanville Volunteer Fire Department, Perry Township Volunteer Fire Department, Scott Township Volunteer Fire Department and elements from Posey County fire departments.
"The (warning) sirens were activated five minutes prior to the tornado hitting the complex (mobile home park)," Naylor said. "Both television and radio (stations) broadcast the warning. We also had an idea there was a tornado as we were getting radio reports from our personnel at the station located a mile from the trailer complex. The responding units also advised there was debris falling from the sky."
One hundred mobile homes in the park were destroyed and 125 others were severely damaged.
"The true scope of the destruction was not immediately known to the incident commanders due to the size of the complex and the magnitude of the destruction," Naylor said. "The first units on the scene had to triage patients and perform field treatment."