NWS explains why tornadoes suddenly formed Monday

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HENDRICKS COUNTY, Ind. - Weather changes in a matter of minutes and folks in Hendricks County learned that first hand when tornadoes suddenly formed and touched down in their neighborhoods.

Hendricks County EMA Director Dave Warren said Monday was a unique case of a tornado warning going out after a tornado had already formed.

“At approximately 5:40 pm, a Hendricks County Deputy Sheriff saw a tornado on the ground north of Cascade High School. He reported it to Hendricks County Communications on radio and it was transmitted as a tornado warning within a minute afterwards," explained Warren.  “The counties north of us had a 45 minute warning. The people in Hendricks County had a 5 or 10 minute warning at the most."

Maria Armstrong was one of those people.

She was at her elderly father's home in the Rolling Acres neighborhood and remembers receiving text warnings about the storm. She didn't think much of it and kept working. Only ten minutes later, she heard the strong winds and rushed her 80-year-old dad into the bathroom.

"I got him up, was yelling at him, 'Get in the bathroom now!'" she said.

She went back out to see what was going on and saw the flagpole out front come out of the ground. Neither of Armstrong or her father were hurt.

"We were very lucky," she said. "Very lucky."

The National Weather Service (NWS) and the Weather Authority Team say Monday's system was not your typical tornado-producing storm. A change in the atmosphere created just the right formula for tornadoes to form.

"Once we had all that rain that moved through yesterday then the sun come out, all of a sudden the air mass really destabilized," said Dan McCarthy with NWS. "We did have some (wind) shear in the area, but I don’t think it was ever that strong enough. That’s why the tornadoes are weak."

The Weather Authority Team immediately took action and got the word out on air and online. McCarthy said those warnings, however short or long they were, definitely saved lives.

"The forecasters that worked last night were really on it," he said. "And it looks like they followed the storm really well to get the warnings out in time so people could take cover."

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