32 Years Ago This Month, Indiana Experienced A Strong, Ultra-Rare January Tornado

Severe weather is not uncommon in the Hoosier state. Every year, we get our fair share of hail, severe storms, and tornadoes; generally, they occur in the spring and summer. Occasionally, though, the atmosphere will surprise us and spit something out in, say, winter. Just 32 years ago this month, Hoosiers got quite a rude surprise. On January 7th, 1989, a violent F4 tornado touched down in neighboring Illinois, crossed the Wabash River, and tore a trail of destruction through parts of Indiana.

Author’s note: Though the map showing the path of this tornado is genuine, photos in this article are from other Indiana severe weather events due to a lack of public-access photo documentation of this storm. The photos of tornado damage are photos from other Indiana F4 tornadoes; the damage to parts of Illinois and Indiana in 1989 would have looked similar. 

Strong tornadoes like the one that trekked from Illinois into Indiana are rare, even during the heart of tornado season. Somewhere around 2% of all tornadoes in the US are EF4s or EF5s; to have an F4 tornado rip up the land in Illinois and Indiana, in January, was quite an unusual event. It was the perfect storm of being in the wrong place at the just-right time, and it was downright terrifying.

Where were you during this historic storm event? Tell us your stories in the comments!

Address: Knox County, IN, USA