A Look Back, the Kokomo Tornado of August 24, 2016

One year ago today, August 24, 2016, central Indiana was impacted by 7 tornadoes.  Of the 7 tornadoes that touched down, 5 of them touched down in Howard County, including an EF-3 tornado that affected the southern portion of Kokomo.  The majority of this write up will be on that tornado that was 300 yards wide(nearly a quarter mile), had estimated winds of 152 mph and caused 20 injuries, but thankfully, no deaths.  We will look at the radar pictures as the tornado developed and moved across southern Kokomo, the warnings that were issued for this storm, the Convective Outlooks that were issued, and the pictures that were sent in to us.

The early Convective Outlook that was posted on August 24, showed much of Indiana under a marginal risk of severe weather to occur during the afternoon hours.  Here’s what I posted at 4:33 am on that day…Good Wednesday morning, much of the state is under a marginal risk for severe storms, mainly during the late morning into the afternoon hours. Primary threat will be damaging winds. Showers and thunderstorms will increase from the late morning into the afternoon hours. In addition, heavy rainfall will be possible. We will monitor today and have additional updates as needed.

early convective outlook aug 24, 2016
This was the first post from Equinox Weather on August 24, 2016 at 4:33 am…Good Wednesday morning, much of the state is under a marginal risk for severe storms, mainly during the late morning into the afternoon hours. Primary threat will be damaging winds. Showers and thunderstorms will increase from the late morning into the afternoon hours. In addition, heavy rainfall will be possible. We will monitor today and have additional updates as needed.

The morning and the early part of the afternoon hours was quiet, but around 2:30 pm, I would post the first of many radars that was showing signs of rotation and some that would eventually produce tornadoes.  The first radar post was at 2:30 pm for area of rotation that I noticed southwest of Crawfordsville and within 7 minutes, the first warning was issued by the National Weather Service Office in Indianapolis, here’s a look at a portion of that warning and the radar picture…

TORNADO WARNING FOR…
SOUTHWESTERN BOONE COUNTY IN CENTRAL INDIANA…
SOUTHEASTERN MONTGOMERY COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL INDIANA…

* UNTIL 300 PM EDT

* AT 237 PM EDT…A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A
TORNADO WAS LOCATED NEAR CRAWFORDSVILLE…MOVING EAST AT 30 MPH.

Aug 24 2016 1437
The first of many tornado warnings that were issued on August 24, 2016

This storm would produce an EF-2 tornado that went through mainly open country, but did cause major damage to homes and barns near Linnsburg.  The path of the tornado was over 5 miles and tornado width of 125 yards.  This tornado caused no injuries or deaths.

Aug 24 2016 1442
The circled area is showing where the tornado was tossing debris in the air.

The storm that would produce the EF-3 tornado became warned for the first time at 2:50 pm.  Here’s a look at portions of that warning from the Indy office…

TORNADO WARNING FOR…
SOUTHEASTERN CARROLL COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL INDIANA…
NORTHEASTERN CLINTON COUNTY IN CENTRAL INDIANA…
HOWARD COUNTY IN CENTRAL INDIANA…

* UNTIL 330 PM EDT

* AT 250 PM EDT…A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A
TORNADO WAS LOCATED 12 MILES NORTHEAST OF FRANKFORT…MOVING EAST
AT 25 MPH.

The initial radar that I posted with this warning was at 2:52 pm.  You can see where the reds and the greens were next to each other, showing where the rotation is located.  The rotation have not quite crossed into Howard County yet.  Then at 2:53 pm, I added the pathcast with the tornado warned storm.  According to this, the possible tornado was predicted to reach Kokomo by 3:27 pm.

The first update on this tornado warning was at 2:59 pm, during this time the possible tornado was 10 miles west of Kokomo and moving east at 30 mph.  I made the next post around 3:02 pm to show where the possible tornado was located with an updated pathcast.  This now showed the tornado to reach Kokomo by 3:22 pm.  Also with the rotation was showing signs of getting stronger.  The tornado would touch down approximately 18 minutes later (more on that in a bit).

Aug 24 2016 1502
This was around the time of the first update of the tornado warning, when it was 10 miles west of Kokomo. The rotation was showing signs of getting stronger and the pathcast had the possible tornado reaching Kokomo by 3:22 pm.

The 3:09 pm update on the tornado warning stated that there was a confirmed tornado near Kokomo and moving east at 30 mph, though the official information from the National Weather Service would show the tornado touching down at 3:20 pm.  While the tornado may have been down at this point, the NWS team that surveyed the damage may have not found a damage path.  The radar from 3:08 pm continued to show the rotation getting stronger.

Aug 24 2016 1508
Rotation on the possible tornado continues to get stronger and within a minute the updated warning suggests that the tornado may have touched down, even though the official reports states tornado did not touch down until 3:20 pm.

By 3:19 pm, behind the scenes, I was seeing that not only the tornado was likely on the ground, but may have been doing damage.  This was the update on the tornado warning issued at 3:17 pm by NWS…

AT 317 PM EDT…A CONFIRMED TORNADO WAS LOCATED OVER KOKOMO…MOVING
EAST AT 30 MPH.

HAZARD…DAMAGING TORNADO.

SOURCE…WEATHER SPOTTERS CONFIRMED TORNADO.

A FUNNEL CLOUD WAS SPOTTED AT 315 PM BY AMATEUR RADIO OPERATORS NEAR
THE INTERSECTION OF COUNTY ROAD 100S AND COUNTY ROAD 100W IN THE
CITY OF KOKOMO.

TO REPEAT…A TORNADO IS ON THE GROUND. TAKE COVER NOW! MOVE TO A
BASEMENT OR AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A STURDY
BUILDING. AVOID WINDOWS. IF YOU ARE OUTDOORS…IN A MOBILE HOME…OR
IN A VEHICLE…MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT
YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

MOTORISTS SHOULD NOT TAKE SHELTER UNDER HIGHWAY OVERPASSES. IF YOU
CANNOT SAFELY DRIVE AWAY FROM THE TORNADO…AS A LAST RESORT…EITHER
PARK YOUR VEHICLE AND STAY PUT…OR ABANDON YOUR VEHICLE AND LIE DOWN
IN A LOW LYING AREA AND PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

Aug 24 2016 1519
The circled area is where radar is suggesting that there could be tornado debris within the tornado as the tornado was approaching the southern sections of Kokomo.

By 3:21 pm, the tornado have moved into the southern sections of Kokomo and the updated wording from the tornado warning was becoming stronger from the NWS, here is much of that updated warning with the strong wording…

AT 320 PM EDT…A CONFIRMED LARGE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO WAS
LOCATED OVER KOKOMO…MOVING EAST AT 30 MPH.

THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION. TAKE COVER NOW!

HAZARD…DAMAGING TORNADO.

SOURCE…LAW ENFORCEMENT CONFIRMED TORNADO.

IMPACT…YOU ARE IN A LIFE-THREATENING SITUATION. FLYING DEBRIS MAY
BE DEADLY TO THOSE CAUGHT WITHOUT SHELTER. MOBILE HOMES
WILL BE DESTROYED. CONSIDERABLE DAMAGE TO HOMES…
BUSINESSES…AND VEHICLES IS LIKELY AND COMPLETE
DESTRUCTION IS POSSIBLE.

A TORNADO WAS SPOTTED NEAR THE INTERSECTION OF COUNTY ROAD 300W AND
50S JUST WEST OF KOKOMO AT 317 PM.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

TO REPEAT…A LARGE…EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND POTENTIALLY DEADLY
TORNADO IS ON THE GROUND. TO PROTECT YOUR LIFE…TAKE COVER NOW!
MOVE TO A BASEMENT OR AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
STURDY BUILDING. AVOID WINDOWS. IF YOU ARE OUTDOORS…IN A MOBILE
HOME…OR IN A VEHICLE…MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

MOTORISTS SHOULD NOT TAKE SHELTER UNDER HIGHWAY OVERPASSES. IF YOU
CANNOT SAFELY DRIVE AWAY FROM THE TORNADO…AS A LAST RESORT…EITHER
PARK YOUR VEHICLE AND STAY PUT…OR ABANDON YOUR VEHICLE AND LIE DOWN
IN A LOW LYING AREA AND PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

The radar picture from 3:22 pm now shows the very strong rotation affecting the southern portion of Kokomo.

Aug 24 2016 1522
Very strong rotation and tornado now affecting the southern portion of Kokomo.

At 3:24 pm, a new tornado warning was issued for Howard County and Kokomo, with even stronger wording from the NWS, and within one minute of that warning, the very little wording “tornado emergency” was issued for the city of Kokomo.  That wording is only used when a destructive tornado that could produce a large loss of live or widespread damage affecting a city.  First here is the warning at 3:24 pm, followed by the tornado emergency wording update at 3:25 pm…

TORNADO WARNING FOR…
EASTERN HOWARD COUNTY IN CENTRAL INDIANA…

* UNTIL 400 PM EDT

* AT 322 PM EDT…A CONFIRMED LARGE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO
WAS LOCATED OVER KOKOMO…MOVING EAST AT 30 MPH.

THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION. TAKE COVER NOW!

HAZARD…DAMAGING TORNADO.

SOURCE…LAW ENFORCEMENT CONFIRMED TORNADO.

IMPACT…YOU ARE IN A LIFE-THREATENING SITUATION. FLYING DEBRIS
MAY BE DEADLY TO THOSE CAUGHT WITHOUT SHELTER. MOBILE
HOMES WILL BE DESTROYED. CONSIDERABLE DAMAGE TO HOMES…
BUSINESSES…AND VEHICLES IS LIKELY AND COMPLETE
DESTRUCTION IS POSSIBLE.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

TO REPEAT…A LARGE…EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND POTENTIALLY DEADLY
TORNADO IS ON THE GROUND. TO PROTECT YOUR LIFE…TAKE COVER NOW!
MOVE TO A BASEMENT OR AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
STURDY BUILDING. AVOID WINDOWS. IF YOU ARE OUTDOORS…IN A MOBILE
HOME…OR IN A VEHICLE…MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

A LARGE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO IS ON THE GROUND. TAKE
IMMEDIATE TORNADO PRECAUTIONS. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY SITUATION.

TORNADO EMERGENCY FOR KOKOMO…

…A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 400 PM EDT FOR EASTERN
HOWARD COUNTY…

AT 324 PM EDT…A CONFIRMED LARGE AND DESTRUCTIVE TORNADO WAS LOCATED
OVER KOKOMO…MOVING EAST AT 30 MPH.

TORNADO EMERGENCY FOR KOKOMO. THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS
SITUATION. TAKE COVER NOW!

HAZARD…DEADLY TORNADO.

SOURCE…LAW ENFORCEMENT CONFIRMED TORNADO.

IMPACT…YOU ARE IN A LIFE-THREATENING SITUATION. FLYING DEBRIS MAY
BE DEADLY TO THOSE CAUGHT WITHOUT SHELTER. MOBILE HOMES
WILL BE DESTROYED. CONSIDERABLE DAMAGE TO HOMES…
BUSINESSES…AND VEHICLES IS LIKELY AND COMPLETE
DESTRUCTION IS POSSIBLE.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

TO REPEAT…A LARGE…EXTREMELY DANGEROUS…AND POTENTIALLY DEADLY
TORNADO IS ON THE GROUND. TO PROTECT YOUR LIFE…TAKE COVER NOW! MOVE
TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A STURDY BUILDING. AVOID
WINDOWS. IF IN A MOBILE HOME…A VEHICLE OR OUTDOORS…MOVE TO THE
CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

A LARGE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO IS ON THE GROUND. TAKE
IMMEDIATE TORNADO PRECAUTIONS. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY SITUATION.

While at this point, it really didn’t matter how the radar looked like, we knew that a tornado is on the ground and it is causing major damage in southern Kokomo, but here is how the radar looked like, with a pathcast at 3:27 pm.  This tornado was projected to affect Greentown by 3:39 pm.

Aug 24 2016 1527
The highlighted warning that covered Kokomo was the area that was under the tornado emergency, as very strong rotation and tornado was over the southeast portion of Kokomo and causing major damage.

The updated tornado emergency warning at 3:32 was suggesting that a large and destructive tornado was on the east side of Kokomo.  Here is a portion of that update…

TORNADO EMERGENCY FOR KOKOMO CONTINUES…

…A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 400 PM EDT FOR EASTERN
HOWARD COUNTY…

AT 331 PM EDT…A CONFIRMED LARGE AND DESTRUCTIVE TORNADO WAS
LOCATED ON THE EAST SIDE OF KOKOMO…MOVING EAST AT 30 MPH. THE
TORNADO WAS SPOTTED AT 330 PM NEAR THE INTERSECTION OF COUNTY ROAD
300E AND US ROUTE 35 ON THE EAST SIDE OF KOKOMO.

TORNADO EMERGENCY FOR KOKOMO. THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS
SITUATION. TAKE COVER NOW!

HAZARD…DEADLY TORNADO.

SOURCE…LAW ENFORCEMENT CONFIRMED TORNADO.

IMPACT…YOU ARE IN A LIFE-THREATENING SITUATION. FLYING DEBRIS MAY
BE DEADLY TO THOSE CAUGHT WITHOUT SHELTER. MOBILE HOMES
WILL BE DESTROYED. CONSIDERABLE DAMAGE TO HOMES…
BUSINESSES…AND VEHICLES IS LIKELY AND COMPLETE
DESTRUCTION IS POSSIBLE.

Then finally, some good news, the radar that I’m about to post from 3:36 pm, looks like that the rotation have greatly weaken the tornado may have even lifted and according to the official report, the tornado have lifted at 3:34 pm.  So the next two posts, will show that radar post, then the second will show the tornado track as plotted by the NWS.

Aug 24 2016 1536
It was during this time, the hook echo that normally associates with tornadoes was no longer showing and that the tornado may have even lifted, which official reports show that it did by 3:34 pm.
kokomo_path
The path of the Kokomo tornado as plotted by the National Weather Service office in Indianapolis. The blue/teal upside down tornado indicate EF-0 damage, green, EF-1, yellow, EF-2, orange, EF-3

The tornado path suggests that there was two areas of EF-3 damage, the first near S. Armstrong St, and the second near and around Markland Mall.  Below is a series of damage photos that were submitted to us from the great folks of Kokomo and those who have sent them will be named in the captions and I apologize, I was not able to use all of them…

As it was earlier stated, this was not the only tornado of the day, several more touched down, including 5 all together in Howard County.  This link from the National Weather Service in Indianapolis have details on all the tornadoes that affected central Indiana that day.  There were an additional 4 tornadoes in northern Indiana, including another EF-3 near Woodburn.  This link here also provide details of the tornadoes.  The Kokomo tornado damaged nearly 1,000, 170 of them with major damage, and 80 were destroyed, including an apartment complex.  Starbucks near Markland Mall was destroyed.  Total damage was estimated at $10 million dollars and one last tidbit before ending, a receipt from the Kokomo tornado was found in Marion, some 30 miles east of Kokomo, which shows the power that these tornadoes can produce.

Overall strong partnerships from the media, the EMAs, and the National Weather Service offices in Indianapolis and Northern Indiana had kept people safe and very thankful that there were no loss of live.  While many people suffered losses of property, some of which can be replaced, you can never replace a life and that’s why we will continue to work very hard at Equinox Weather to provide watches and warnings during severe weather events.

Notes:  Featured photo from Amy True, video provided from Kristen Enoch, Burlington volunteer firefighter

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