Let’s face it, “tornado outbreak in Indiana” isn’t exactly a headline that Hoosiers haven’t seen before. We’ve had our fair share of severe weather events, not even limited to the spring and summer tornado season, but some years are worse than others, and 1974 happened to be a year that made history in one of the most terrifying ways possible. On April 3, 1974, every ingredient came together flawlessly, and the tornado outbreak of the century occurred. Unfortunately, Indiana was among the states hit the hardest.

This outbreak was and still is a highly unusual event. F4 and F5, called EF4 and EF5 tornadoes via the Enhanced Fujita scale as of February 2007, account for less than 2 percent of all tornadoes. The most recent EF5 tornado in the United States was in 2013, and this spring (spring 2021) will mark eight years since it happened. Interestingly (and perhaps terrifyingly), the 1974 Super-Outbreak was eclipsed only by the 2011 mega-outbreak, during which time 360 confirmed tornadoes ripped across several states in a little over 72 hours. Both the 1974 and 2011 super outbreaks occurred during La Niña years, during which ocean temperatures in the Pacific are lower than usual.

Thankfully, it’s unlikely that we will see an outbreak with the severity of the 1974 and 2011 seasons anytime soon, as they were truly a cut above the rest. But it’s certainly important to keep severe weather safety protocols up to date for the whole family, just in case. We strongly suggest purchasing an NOAA weather radio to keep tabs on current weather at all times.

Interested in more interesting weather tidbits? Check this article out for seven more devastating tornado outbreak events in Indiana.

Do you remember the 1974 Super-Outbreak? Where were you? Tell us your stories in the comments.

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