WEATHER BLOG: Severe weather leaves damage across central Indiana

Possible tornado near Heltonville. (Courtesy: Steve Jones)
Two confirmed tornadoes
Storm damage
Jackson County storm damage
Storm damage
Jackson County storm damage
Storm damage

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Storms packing high winds, hail and possible tornadoes have swept across Indiana, leaving thousands of power customers without service.

Indiana utilities reported more than 27,000 customers without service Thursday evening.

The National Weather Service issued several tornado warnings, mostly in southern Indiana, but none were immediately confirmed.

The weather service recorded a 60 mph wind gust at Indianapolis International Airport.

It says damage from the storms included the roof ripped off a mobile home in Speedway and downed trees and power lines in various locations.

No injuries were immediately reported.

A barn in Jackson County took a direct hit from the storm, collapsing part of the roof.

It's too early to say what kind of storm struck Michael Isaacs' farm. In addition to the aluminum barn, several grain bins were damaged. Up on the roof, a 2-by-4 piece of lumber was turned into a spear by the storm.

Isaacs said despite the damage, his family was lucky.

"We were very fortunate because even though it's still damage, it's still pretty limited. The main barn is still there and the house is and the garage," Isaacs said. "Dealing with a little power outage, but hopefully that will be straightened up tomorrow and just clean up on the debris is the main thing."

Neighbor Greg Reedy lost a large portion of his fence, but his biggest concern was getting the cattle in Isaacs' barn to safety. None of the cattle were injured and were moved to a neighboring farm.

The Jackson County emergency management director said there were no injuries reported in the county and the barn was the most significant damage suffered in the area.

The storms made a major mess along County Road 400 North in Jackson County, not far from Brownstown.

“It was really raining harder and going sideways," said witness Greg Reedy. “The rain got so bad you couldn’t see a thing."

Then came the hail.

“I heard some things moving and crashing, but as far as like a tornado, where they say it sounded like a freight train, I never heard anything like that," Reedy told us.

After just twenty seconds of intense wind, rain and hail, he saw his neighbor’s farm heavily damaged.

“Wow! Jonathan and Michael got a pole barn. It’s missing and the grain bin is gone. Metal in the trees. Got to looking and he had lost a bunch of fence,“ said Reedy.

The punishing winds turned a lumber 2 x 4 into a spear that pierced a metal roof and left a broken grain bin to teeter in the wind.

When the pole barn split, pieces scattered. On the inside of the pushed-over barn door, extension cords, wiring and other supplies were still neatly on their hooks and shelves.

The wind appeared to move the barn about a half-foot off its pad, one neighbor told us.

And riding it all out, unhurt, was the farmer's cattle. Friends and neighbors arrived with trailers and the cattle was soon hoofing it to shelter at a neighbor’s barn.

“We’ve always said we’re not just neighbors out here, we’re family," said Alicia Reedy.

Down the road, Duke Energy crews checked on poles which were left leaning after gusts. And we saw a field irrigation unit tipped wheels-up by the wind.

Just down from the ruined barn, a two man-chainsaw team was cutting downed trees out of a yard, cleaning up.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers were already at work on an 80 year old's house down the road.

“This will save him a ton of money and keep him safe. We had branches in the trees that were going to fall out," said Pastor Don Morris, one of the volunteers.

They’ll tarp his damaged roof at no cost, too.

“God has blessed us and we want to bless other folks," said Morris. His brother Rodney Morris agreed.

“Just doing what God has asked us to do, going out to help people that are in need.“

“We live on tornado alley," Alicia Reedy said. "It’s not that uncommon for winds or a tornado to go through the area, but we’ve not had anything this close to our house before.“

Hours after the winds that moved in with the severe storm came a line of straight-line winds. We measured sustained winds at over 35 miles per hour, as was forecast.

It will be at least Friday before the National Weather Service determines whether a tornado or those straight-line winds are to blame for the damage.


4:45 a.m. Friday — Both IPL and Duke Energy are still reporting power outages in the area. If you power is out and you need to report it, call IPL at 317-261-8111 or Duke Energy at 800-343-3525.

7 p.m. — As of 7 p.m., IPL had reported about 4,300 customers without power after storms blew through the area. Duke Energy reported more than 21,000 outages statewide following the storm, with the majority reported in the southern part of the state.

3:35 p.m. — Wind damage is being reported in Parke County with gusts up to 60 mph.

3:29 p.m. — Latest warning from the National Weather Service has Fayette, Franklin and Union counties under a Tornado Warning until 4 p.m.

3:13 p.m. — Indiana State Police are seeing more damage in Jackson County from the storms.

3:05 p.m. — Damage is being reported in an area north of Brownstown.

3:02 p.m. — A viewer named Steve Jones has sent us images of a possible tornado near Heltonville.

Possible tornado near Heltonville. (Courtesy: Steve Jones)

2:57 p.m. — A TORNADO WARNING has been issued for Franklin and Ripley counties until 3:30 p.m.

2:42 p.m. — A TORNADO WARNING has been issued for Decatur and Jennings counties until 3 p.m.

2:37 p.m. — A viewer has sent us video of a possible tornado spotted near Columbus, Indiana. The video is courtesy of Toni:

2:30 p.m. — A Severe Thunderstorm Warning is in effect until 3 p.m. for Bartholmew, Decatur and Jennings counties.

2:27 p.m. — A TORNADO WARNING has been issued for Jackson and Jennings counties until 2:45 p.m.2:12 p.m. — A TORNADO WARNING is in effect for Jackson and Lawrence counties until 2:45 p.m. There is a Tornado Warning for Bartholomew, Decatur, Jennings and Shelby counties until 2:30 p.m.

A Tornado Watch covers most of central Indiana until 5 p.m.

1:35 p.m. — IPS has announced it is canceling all after school activities due to the weather.

We continue to stress to remain Weather Aware with high wind gusts and possibly tornadoes, some of which could be strong, over the viewing area between now and just before 6 PM.

Latest analysis suggests the greatest tornado potential will be maximized in the eastern and southern halves of Indiana.... an area that's been marked by the Storm Prediction Center of having the possibility of a strong tornado.

Have multiple ways to get warnings, know your safety plan, and follow radar/forecast closely the next several hours.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)