You see what was left of the once beautiful Monticello Courthouse after a tornado passed through downtown Monticello on April 3, 1974.
Here in Indiana, us Hoosiers know that it is a gradual process going from Winter to Spring. Today we take a step back into winter with wind chills and highs only in the 40s. This weekend we will take a couple steps forward and it will feel like Spring once again. It is kind of like nature is playing red light, green light with us just like you did when you were a kid.....Stop! I saw you move....okay go back to the beginning.....We should not complain about nature toying with us and our dreary Friday. The picture above is a good reminder why. Overall, Takeshi has been kind to us as expected with most rainfall amounts under a quarter inch. Here at WLFI we have had .15" of an inch. Takeshi will be remembered for its chilly backlash so make sure you wear your heavier jackets today. I do not think we will see much more than a little drizzle or sprinkles mainly this morning. It could have been a lot worse. Some areas in southern Indiana have already had more than 3 inches of rain with flash flood warnings issued. Severe weather also erupted across the deep south from Texas through Oklahoma and Arkansas with at least 9 tornadoes reported. We did have a little excitement here yesterday during the 11 p.m. newscast on Precision Doppler 18. We were picking up some hail spikes as we looked through a thunderstorm that actually moved through Tipton County. Notice the radar below that I showed in 3D. The more vertical development you see on the bright radar returns the better the chance for some pea-size hail. I didn't get any reports but in the middle of some farm field I am convinced there was at least a little bit of hai that reached the ground.
We have already had over 500 tornadoes in this country since January compared to our average that should have only been close to 200 to date. I will have the actual numbers for you coming up shortly in our blog question of the day dealing with our record-pace our country is on when it comes to tornadoes so far this year. You can blame the La Nina which is showing some signs of weakening but still strong enough to cause plenty of concern here at home. Some of our upper-air charts this month are eerily similar to what we saw in 1974 which was also a strong La Nina Year in Indiana. This does not mean I am expecting a repeat of the 1974 tornado outbreak this month, but we need to be alert and aware of what can happen in this pattern. Here is another areal view of the littered landescape in and around Monticello. There were officially 8 fatalities and the some of them occurred on one of the two bridges you see in the picture. One of the worst places to be in a tornado is in a car.
The story of the day is a tornado that passed right over the National Weather Service office in Little Rock, Arkansas. Luckily, everybody is okay but there is plenty of damage in and around the airport. A lot of folks ask me what I would do if a tornado hit TV-18 while doing the weather. Well, I have a family and secondly I do practice what I preach when it comes to severe weather so I would evacuate everybody in the studio and head to the middle of the building here at WLFI which is the avid room. I would keep my microphone on and tell you that I am in my safe spot and you should be too. I would stay calm and cover up just like I tell kids at my school talks. At that point I would leave it in God's hands knowing that I did all I could do. The big thing to remember is that I have spoken to kids that have survived the worst tornado ever recorded in our country. The May 3, 1999 Oklahoma tornado that had a wind speed estimated at 317 mph. Those kids told me they got in their bath tubs and even though the tornado razed everything in sight, they survived thanks to staying calm and acting quickly. A couple kids had some bruises and some were amazed at when they poked their heads out from under the mattresses they held tightly in their bath tubs that all they saw was blue skies once the storm had passed. They were certainly thankful for not only having a plan but taking action calmly and quickly. Speaking of severe weather a lot of folks were interested in seeing more local tornado clips here on the weather blog so I want to thank our videographer Blake Naftel for helping to show us what it looked like in Monticello back on April 3, 1974.
I had the pleasure of talking to Mr. Storm who was the only person to forecast the event. He was a teacher in Monticello and on his chalkboard he actually told his kids that it would get really bad in the late afternoon as all of the air masses or seasons would collide over Indiana. Luckily that day nobody was in school during the afternoon when the tornado hit Meadowland Elementary, Roosevelt Middle School, and Twin Lakes High School. Based on the damage done to all 3 schools building codes and safety codes for all schools across the country were changed forever. It is no coincidence that White County became the first Storm Ready county in Indiana and here at WLFI we will keep you Storm Ready as our severe weather season heats up. I look forward to sharing brighter news with you tonight. Say goodbye to Takeshi and hello wonderful weekend weather! I will see you soon and I will post more cherry blossom pictures here for you since they were such a hit! Thanks for reading. Stay safe, stay alert, and stay tuned!