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Evansville Tornado November 6 2005

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Published on Nov 24, 2009

The Evansville Tornado of November 2005 was a powerful tornado that formed early in the morning of November 6, 2005, outside of Evansville, a city in Southwestern Indiana on the Ohio River. It was the first of several significant tornado events in the month of November 2005. The tornado resulted in 25 confirmed fatalities across the region, making it by far the deadliest and most destructive tornado in the United States in 2005, and it was also the deadliest single tornado in the US since 36 died in Oklahoma on May 3, 1999. Significant tornadoes were also reported in western Kentucky.

Meteorological analysis

The system formed on a cold front that tracked across the Midwest and stretched from the northern Great Lakes to Tennessee. The front was enhanced by a strong jet stream and warm, humid air ahead of it, allowing thunderstorms to develop. A severe thunderstorm watch was issued for the region just west of Evansville as the main threat appeared to be straight-line winds. The system had formed into a squall line but at about 1:30 am CST (0730 UTC), the squall line broke up in the Ohio Valley area, as the low level jet intensified, allowing embedded tornadoes to form rapidly out of newly-formed supercells. They were fairly isolated (only seven were confirmed across the entire region over a 24-hour period) but four significant tornadoes formed from two simultaneous supercells in southern Indiana and western Kentucky — one of them was the deadly Evansville tornado.

Evansville area tornado

On Sunday, November 6, 2005 at around 1:50 am CST (0750 UTC), a tornado touched down 2 miles (3 km) north-northwest of Smith Mills in Henderson County, Kentucky, near the Indiana/Kentucky border, and then crossed the Ohio River into Vanderburgh County, Indiana. Staying just south of I-164, the tornado traveled to the northeast causing extensive damage to parts of Evansville, Newburgh, and Boonville in Indiana. The tornado finally lifted in Spencer County, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) south-southwest of Gentryville. According to a damage survey done by the National Weather Service office in Paducah, Kentucky the damage path was at least 400 yards (365 m) wide and 41 miles (66 km) long. The tornado's maximum wind speed was estimated to be 200 mph (320 km/h), making it a high-end F3 on the Fujita scale.

Tornado warnings were in effect at the time and issued on average about 30 minutes before the tornado hit, but few people were alerted; many were asleep as the tornado hit in the overnight hours. The local NOAA Weather Radio transmitter was experiencing technical difficulties at the time causing some weather radios to not sound an alarm. The tornado killed 25 people; two of the victims died from injuries more than a month after the storm. Damages were estimated at around $85 million.

Ellis Park Racecourse (a horse racing facility between Henderson and Evansville) was the first area to be devastated. The track suffered heavy damage; 11 of its 38 barns were destroyed and another 11 were damaged, and several of their racehorses were killed. Extensive tree damage also occurred in the area as the tornado leveled a swath of forests. The worst damage occurred in the southeast side of Evansville, where the Eastbrook Mobile Home Park suffered extreme damage from the tornado. Among the 350 trailers in the park, over 100 were flattened and another 125 were severely damaged. 20 people were killed in the park and another 230 were injured. Electricity service was cut for over 25,000 customers in the area after the tornado hit.

Severe damage was also reported in Warrick County, where five more people lost their lives. The communities of Paradise, DeGonia Springs, Newburgh, Boonville, and Tennyson all sustained major damage, including houses damaged or destroyed, as a result. All five of the victims died in mobile homes. Four were of an entire family. The victims included a pregnant woman.

Fatalities

The 25 deaths from the Evansville tornado made it the deadliest tornado event in Indiana since the Super Outbreak of 1974, when several tornadoes resulted in 47 deaths in the state. It was the most deaths caused in a single day by tornadoes since May 4, 2003 during the May 2003 tornado outbreak sequence when 39 were killed. It was the deadliest single tornado since May 3, 1999 when 36 were killed from the Moore, Oklahoma area tornado during 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak.

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