January 29, 2008 Squall Line and Tornadoes

A powerful cold front sparked a lengthy squall line that crossed all of southern Indiana and central Kentucky on the evening of January 29, 2008. A large number of locations had 60 to as much as 100 mph winds, causing extensive property damage. There were also several short-lived tornadoes, one of which sadly led to a fatality when a tree fell onto a mobile home near Henryville, Indiana.

Click here for an animated radar loop of the whole squall line crossing the region.

Weather Map January 29, 2008
Click on the image above to see the amazing temperature difference on either side of the cold front that was responsible for the storms!

Washington County, Indiana

Washington County map

The squall line charged across Washington County, Indiana between 7:30 and 7:55pm and brought 70-100 mph wind gusts in a swath from Becks Mill to South Boston, just south of Salem. A small tornado also touched down intermittently within the downburst area. The path of the strongest winds was 12 miles long by one mile wide. The tornadoes were between 200 and 250 yards wide.

The most intense damage occurred near the intersection of Skylight and Cauble roads where several hardwood trees were snapped off, numerous trees were uprooted in different directions, a farm outbuilding was collapsed, and construction shop metal sheeting from a well-constructed barn was thrown 200 yards into the trees downwind.

On Cindy lane near Springhouse Road a large storage shed was shifted 40 degrees and a well-constructed home had significant loss of roofing. Near South Boston on Route 160 at New Salem Road numerous softwood and hardwood trees were snapped and uprooted in different directions.

Click on the images below for a larger version.

At this time, the line entered Washington County, with a bow structure and very strong winds moving into the southwest part of the county. As the line moved over Washington County, the bowing segment, producing a channel of intense winds, was clearly evident. A line break developed over  Washington, indicative of intense winds and even tornadoes. Winds at were 70-100 mph along the bow. A well-developed line break moved across Washington, continuing to produce 70-100 mph straight-line winds and brief tornadoes. Wind damage continued along the leading edge of the line, especially within the break and south of the break.

Some roof damage to a home south of Salem, Indiana (Washington County). More roof damage to the same house south of Salem, Indiana. This small shed was blown off its foundation south of Salem. Debris (metal sheeting) was blown high into trees south of Salem, Indiana. This roof was peeled back by straight-line winds west of Salem.


A large tree was uprooted by the wind. What is the horse in this photograph thinking? This damage was in Pekin, Indiana in southeast Washington County. Courtesy Hack Albertson Tree damage on a rural road in Washington County due to strong straight-line winds. Metal sheeting torn off a building was thrown onto the ground and into adjacent trees west of Salem. Damage to a home in Pekin, Indiana (Washington County). Courtesy Hack Albertson

Clark County, Indiana

Clark County map

A half-mile wide swath of damaging straight-line winds stretched for four miles from Henryville to the Scott County line, with wind gusts up to near 90 mph. An EF1 tornado briefly touched down just northeast of Henryville at 7:58pm. The tornado was on the ground for only about one minute, with a path length of 250 yards and path width of 100 yards. However, the twister's 90 mph winds felled trees in varying directions, one of which crashed onto a mobile home. In addition, numerous trees were snapped or uprooted by downburst winds on Beagle Club Road and Old State Road.

Click on the images below for a larger version.

The line of storms moved through eastern Washington County at 7:45 pm, with a definitive line break indicative of very strong winds.  The line advanced east into southwest Scott and western Clark counties. Wind damage continued along the line. The storms made a line echo wave pattern or "S" shape and were bowed out, indicating very strong winds and the potential for brief tornadoes. The line of storms hit Henryville in Clark County, Indiana at this time. Storm-relative velocity data showed 3 "mesovortices" capable of producing intense winds and brief tornadoes. One was near Henryville.
This mobile home was crushed by falling trees just north of Henryville. Another image of the mobile home as a brief tornado felled trees nearby. Trees uprooted or branches snapped due to straight-line winds north of Henryville. More uprooted trees and branches snapped due to straight-line winds. The storms continued to race east and cause wind damage over Clark and Scott counties.

Scott County, Indiana

Scott County Map

Scott County, Indiana was struck by the line of thunderstorms from about 7:50 to 8:15 pm. Besides sporadic straight-line wind damage across the county, an EF1 tornado touched down just east of Lexington in southeast Scott County and was on the ground for about a mile from 8:10 pm to 8:12 pm. It was one of the longer continuous tornado tracks of the evening. It snapped and uprooted trees, destroyed a mobile home, and caused roof damage to a number of homes. Winds were up to 95 mph along a 100 yard wide swath.

At this time, the line made an "S" shape over Scott County, with a bow echo producing very strong winds over the southern part of the county. The line reached near the Lexington, Indiana. Note the break in the red colors within the bowing segment, a signature of intense winds. The worst part of the line moved through southeast Scott County, including in and east of Lexington. Storm-relative velocity data showed a small circulation (mesovortex) near/east of Lexington, Indiana associated with a brief tornado in addition to straight-line wind damage. The severe storms moved out of Scott County and into Jefferson County, Indiana where it continued to produce areas of wind damage.

Jefferson County, Kentucky

Jefferson County Map

As the squall line and its embedded intermittent brief tornadoes proceeded across the Louisville metropolitan area, winds of 60 to 90 mph caused widespread property losses.

The first tornado touchdown was near 2202 Dixie Highway where a church was badly damaged. Structural damage continued for about a mile to the northeast. The tornado then dipped to earth again on the west side of the University of Louisville campus causing some window damage to buildings and vehicles. The next touchdown happened in Saint Matthews near the intersection of Shelbyville Road and Interstate 264, where extensive damage was suffered by many businesses and private properties. The fourth and final touchdown was in Anchorage where many trees were damaged, blown over, and uprooted.

The tornado touchdowns were EF1 in strength and about 100 yards wide, occurring between 8:00pm and 8:13pm.

This is a 0.5 degree base reflectivity loop from 7:58 to 8:45 pm est from the NWS (KLVX) Doppler radar at Ft. Knox. The squall line of thunderstorms raced east through Jefferson County, Kentucky including metro Louisville. Maximum wind damage and embedded brief tornadoes occurred in an axis just south and east of downtown Louisville, from Dixie Highway just north of Shively through the University of Louisville to parts of St. Matthews through Anchorage to Pewee Valley (with damage at the Little Colonel Playhouse) and then east of the county. The straight-line and tornadic damage occurred mainly along and just north of the bow echo within the line, i.e., that part of the line which was bowed (or accelerated) out more so than the rest of the line. The bowing is caused by intense winds within and just behind the line pushing the leading line of storms out ahead of the rest of the line.

Most of the following pictures were sent to us by weather spotter Michael Scott Howard, to whom we are grateful. Most of them were taken just a couple of hours after the storm in or near Saint Matthews. Click on the images for larger versions.


al al al srp srp
American Legion American Legion American Legion Shelbyville Road Plaza Shelbyville Road Plaza
srp srp srp St. Agnes stc
Shelbyville Road Plaza Shelbyville Road Plaza Shelbyville Road Plaza St. Agnes Church Saint Matthews Center
smc tpl tpl tpl louisville
Saint Matthews Center Ten Pin Lanes Ten Pin Lanes Ten Pin Lanes Newburg/Deer Park Ave
damag damage damage damage anchorage
Wind damage Wind damage Windows blown out Windows blown out Damage in Anchorage


Allen, Barren, Monroe, and Metcalfe counties (south-central Kentucky)
Damage from straight-line winds was found throughout these counties. The worst damage was along Route 98 east of Scottsville in Allen County, where downburst winds of up to 90 mph caused significant damage along a path a mile long and 200 yards wide. Trees fell on houses, trailers, and vehicles. Roof damage occurred as well.

Nicholas County
(east-central Kentucky)
Damage to several buildings along Route 68 north of Carlisle was done by winds gusting up to 85 mph.

Oldham County
(north-central Kentucky)
Straight-line winds up of 85 mph damaged a portion of the Little Colonel Playhouse in Pewee Valley. Many trees were knocked down as well.

adairville adairville Adairville, Kentucky dd
Adairville, KY (Dan Draper) Adairville, KY (Dan Draper) Adairville, KY (Dan Draper) Adairville, KY (Dan Draper)
adairville Bowling Green adairville glasgow
Adairville, KY (Dan Draper) Bowling Green, KY (Jay Brandon WNKY) Adairville, KY (Dan Draper) Glasgow, KY (Cathy Smith/Chris Allen)
glasgow glasgow Mt Hermon Mount Hermon, Kentucky
Glasgow, KY (Cathy Smith/Chris Allen) Glasgow, KY (Cathy Smith/Chris Allen) Mount Hermon, KY (Chris Allen WBKO) Mount Hermon, KY (Chris Allen WBKO)

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