April 11, 1965 – Deadliest tornado outbreak in Indiana history

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An important date in Indiana weather history: April 11, 1965 – it was 49 years ago today the deadliest tornado outbreak in state history occurred. 137 Hoosiers died as a swarm of tornadoes raked the state. 10 tornadoes across 18 counties in only a matter of a few hours.

On that day, 37 tornadoes would touch down in 6 states that day, killing 258 and injuring 3000.

The historical image of the twin F4 tornadoes that struck the Midway trailer park near Dunlap was photographed by Elkhart Truth photographer Paul Huffman.  Considered the first time ever twin tornadoes are captured on film, the picture resides now at the Smithsonian Institute.

An 800 yard wide tornado would kill 25 near Kokomo. 84 people would die in Elkhart County alone.

Weather radar was space in 1965 and the then US Weather Bureau relied on information relayed from Chicago and its radar. The tornado reports were so numerous that for the first and only time in US history a blanket tornado warning was issued, urging all residents to take shelter.

Following that deadly tornado outbreak, the National Weather Service underwent changes to improve severe weather forecasts and warnings, including establishing the Watch and Warning Program that exists today and the weather spotter program, SKYWARN.

We uncovered vintage film from the basement of Channel 28 WSJV 19 years ago – now our FOX affiliate and produced a 30 year special hosted by a much younger Brian Wilkes.  Below is a link to that 30 minute special done in 1995 while working in Elkhart.


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