October 24th, 2001 Tornado Outbreak
Story Compiled by NWS Northern Indiana Staff
Tornadoes can develop under the right circumstances any time of the day, any time of the year in northern Indiana, northwest Ohio and southern Michigan. On the afternoon of October 24, 2001 conditions were highly favorable for a significant outbreak of severe weather throughout the lower Great Lakes region. A warm, unstable air mass was in place, with southerly winds pumping in a supply of moist air (65 to 70 degree dew points). Storms began to quickly develop during the afternoon as a strong cold front approached from the west. This cold front exhibited a striking contrast of air masses with temperatures plummeting about 15 degrees within an hour of the frontís passage. This front provided the focus for rapid thunderstorm development. Also, the wind field was conducive for developing strong rotation in the storms that led to tornado development in the strongest storms. The winds at the surface were generally from the southeast to south up to 20 mph. Meanwhile winds just a few thousand feet above the ground were from the southwest at speeds of 50 to 70 mph. This shift in wind direction and increase in wind speed greatly enhanced the threat for tornadic storms. See the map below for tornado tracks and F scale ratings of the October 24th storms. You can also read the damage survey conducted by the NWS Northern Indiana Office. A complete timeline of events from October 24th is also available.
Amateur photographer Ed Sloan captured the Kosciusko County tornado on film as it moved just south of North Webster near Armstrong Road. We have also put together a page with over 100 photographs from this event, many from our storm damage surveys. Feel free to email us your pictures as well.
While the tornado outbreak of October 24, 2001 was certainly a rare event, strong tornados in October have happened before. On October 24, 1967, F2 tornados struck Kosciusko and Elkhart Counties Indiana.
On October 16, 1988 an F2 tornado struck Elkhart County Indiana. The tornado damaged 21 homes and several barns on its 6 mile track as it moved across the southern part of the county.
On October 8, 1992 an F2 tornado tracked 2 miles from just south of Fort Wayne International Airport's tower in Allen County Indiana, and moved to the northeast. Windows were blown out of the control tower and five businesses were damaged. Nine people were injured.
The recent tornado outbreak underscores the importance of having a plan of action in place whenever a tornado or severe thunderstorm threatens. Whether at home, work, school, or business, know where to go and what to do to protect yourself and your family. Do you have a NOAA Weather Radio to alert you to severe weather? Tornados will strike again, are you prepared? Here are some safety tips for you and your family.
Tornado Tracks on October 24th, 2001