April 11, 1965 is still remembered by many: that day a brutal string of tornados hit the states of Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan with wind gusts as high as 318 miles per hour, killing 250 people and injuring some 1500 others. The first funnel cloud hit the ground at 1 p.m. with others following at varying intervals, up to 5:30 pm. The storms intensified as they day progressed.
An F4 storm hit Koontz Lake, Indiana and 2 other twisters hit Wakarusa, and Goshen, doing massive damage to homes, and local infrastructure. More storms continued to develop over the course of that same day. The worst of the tornados, an F5 storm with winds reaching speeds of up to 318 miles per hour landed at Elkhart Indiana and destroyed the Sunnyside subdivision killing over 30 people.
One of the funnel clouds was a colossal eight hundred yards wide, leaving a trail of devastation in its path. Telephone and electrical lines where knocked out by the high winds. The phone system was down and, as a result, local city officials where unable to warn others in the path of the storm of the severe danger.
The day progressed and tornados hit many other counties. The damage from all these rapidly occurring storms was devastating. The impact that these storms had on the area was huge.
The U.S. weather bureau conducted a full investigation after the storm and established the need for better methods to communicate warnings to residents and officials in other areas of approaching storms.
It was just a little while after this that the Weather Service started to put out announcements indicating that tornados where likely to form and where they were traveling once they had hit the ground. The economic consequences of these storms were felt in all three states. Houses where completely destroyed, and all the major utilities took damage. Local businesses had to close and effect repairs and millions of dollars had to be spent to clean up the mess that was left by the roving storms.
The loss of business and personal information alone can hardly be calculated. Once again local residents and business across the three states where caught by surprise and hurt or killed as a result. Tornados by there very natures are extremely hard to forecast. Unlike other storms that can be seen as they approach, a tornado can, in effect, form right on top of you and hit you when you least expect it. The need to take proper precautions is essential to ensuring the safety of local residents and businesses.
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