Several tornadoes have crossed the (present-day) city limits of Fort Wayne...
July 19, 1950 --
A tornado would be hard-pressed to score a more direct hit on Fort Wayne than this one. This twister touched down near the corner of Taylor Street and Brooklyn Avenue and moved northeast, directly through downtown, and lifted near the Tennessee Street bridge. Fortunately the tornado was rather weak, and it occurred around seven o'clock in the evening after most of the business people had left for home.
Trees were blown down from the 2000 block to the 1800 block of Taylor Street, and at 1530 Swinney Avenue. A shed was demolished at 1302 Wall Street and power poles were torn down along Thompson Avenue. A tree fell at 1120 Nelson Road, and a large tree toppled over and crushed a car at 1135 Jones Street. Similarly, an automobile was smashed by a tree at 1121 Wilt Street.
Entering the central business district on this Wednesday evening, a tree was felled at the intersection of Van Buren Street and Jefferson Boulevard. At the corner of Main and Calhoun, five people were injured when a store front's window burst and showered them with glass. Street lights along the 100 block of West Main Street were damaged.
After missing the Allen County Courthouse by a matter of feet, and crossing the site of the present-day City-County Building, the twister ripped part of the roof of a building at Barr Street and Superior Street, just about where the Fort Wayne Museum of Art stands today.
The tornado crossed the Saint Mary's River, avoided damaging the Three Rivers Filtration Plant, but managed to tear power poles down on Wagner Street behind the plant.
The weakening funnel crossed the Saint Joseph River, knocked over some trees at the corner of Tennessee Avenue and Saint Joseph Boulevard, and then lifted back into the clouds.
March 18, 1953 --
This funnel stayed aloft for much of its trip through Fort Wayne, but did manage to touch down a few times. The facade of a building was damaged at 1436 West Main Street and a few windows were broken downtown (including at the present site of the Grand Wayne Center).
With a last burst of energy, it destroyed a home that was under construction on Wayne Trace.
March 3, 1955 --
A small tornado briefly touched down over southeast Fort Wayne, a few blocks east of McMillen Park. At 3615 East Rudisill, the roof was removed from a home and, after the roof was removed, one of the outside walls fell over. Nearby, a mobile home that was anchored to its foundation at 3709 Grayston rolled a hundred feet, injuring the occupant. Four other mobile homes in the same immediate area were damaged.
A sign at an auto parts store crashed down onto a truck that happened to be passing by. The truck was carrying automobiles, and the autos were heavily damaged.
The storm also dropped so much hail that it drifted up to a foot deep at City Hall.
May 14, 1972 --
Tornado skipped through the Blackhawk Forest, Bellshire, and Park State East subdivisions north of State Boulevard east of Maplecrest Road (very near the area struck by the October 8, 1992 downburst...see below). One home was demolished and 39 damaged. Most of the damage was along Hope Farm Road and Antebellum Boulevard...generally in the form of roof and siding damage. A roof was damaged and pillars were torn from their supports at 8135 Oklahoma Trail.
May 10, 1973 --
There is an excellent photograph on the front page of the May 11, 1973 edition of the Journal Gazette, showing a funnel cloud floating over Fulton Street in downtown Fort Wayne.
Most of the tornado damage occurred east of New Haven in Jefferson Township, but there was some scattered damage in Fort Wayne on Saint Joe Center and Trier roads. Also, an aluminum patio cover was blown loose and sailed over the roof of a house at 2902 Charlotte Avenue. It's unclear whether the Fort Wayne damage was a result of a tornado or straight-line winds.
April 10, 1978 --
A brief twister ripped the roof from a building on the north edge of Lakeside Golf Club on Coliseum Boulevard south of the Lake Avenue intersection, destroyed a modular home on nearby Madeira Drive, and damaged the siding of a home on Nevada Avenue.
March 28, 1985 --
Two mobile homes were destroyed, two were seriously damaged, and thirty had minor damage at Countryside Village and Edgewood Estates on West Washington Center Road. One trailer was completely swept off its foundation and thrown into a ravine. Nine people were injured. Newspaper accounts reported that the National Weather Service had attributed this damage to straight-line winds, however the event is listed as a tornado in the National Weather Service's storm database. A tornado warning was in effect at the time, and funnel clouds were sighted in the area.
October 8, 1992 --
A small tornado touched down on the grounds of Fort Wayne International Airport. The air traffic control tower lost some it its siding and windows. Debris was scattered across runways and taxiways, closing the airport for an hour and a half. The tornado left the airport and damaged at least four businesses along Ferguson and Indianapolis roads. Half of Tuthill Corporation's roof was ripped off, and cars in the parking lot were tossed around and flipped. The roof was completely removed and a wall caved in at Prentice Products.
This storm did greater damage with straight-line winds than it did with its tornado. There was a great deal of damage in the Knolls and Blackhawk subdivisions. Homes were moderately to heavily damaged on Mounded Court, Busche Drive, and near the intersection of Arrowwood Drive and State Boulevard. There was a total of 13 injuries and 12 badly damaged homes.
The tornado at the airport was estimated to have 100 mph winds. The straight-line thunderstorm winds east of Georgetown Square topped 125 mph.
May 26, 2001 --
At 5:45pm a tornado touched down in the parking lot at Northcrest Shopping Center on Coliseum Boulevard. The twister flipped cars over and did roof and window damage to the mall and a nearby business. The tornado crossed Clinton Street and struck Damon's Restaurant, peeling off part of its roof and overturning a vehicle in the parking lot.
The tornado lifted temporarily, then reached back down to earth in the Papermill Bluff subdivision on Saint Joe Center Road. Numerous homes received minor to moderate damage and two houses were severely damaged, including roofs being removed and outside walls collapsing.
After crossing Saint Joe Center Road, the Towne House Retirement Home suffered some roof and tree damage. Additional tree and structure damage occurred on the grounds of the Concordia Seminary, where the funnel dissipated.
Despite striking a popular dining/shopping/entertainment district on a Saturday evening, there were only three injuries and no human fatalities (one dog was killed in Northcrest's parking lot).
The strongest storm ever to hit Fort Wayne?
It appears that the tornadoes of May 26, 2001 and May 14, 1972, along with the downburst of October 8, 1992, were probably the most destructive storms ever to occur in Fort Wayne. No tornado greater than F2 strength has ever been recorded in the city.