National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

June 2, 1990 Tornado Outbreak

 

On June 2, 1990, a large and widespread tornado outbreak occurred across parts of the Midwest and Ohio Valley. Through the early morning of June 3, there were a total of 65 tornadoes, 37 of which occurred across Indiana.

The most heavily damaged area was from Southeast Illinois through Southern Indiana and into Southwestern Ohio. There were several strong to violent tornadoes across this corridor including seven that were determined to be F4 in intensity on the Fujita scale.

There was also a swath of weak to strong tornadoes from East Central Illinois through Central Indiana and more isolated tornadoes across Northern Indiana, Southeastern Lower Michigan and Southern Kentucky.

For Indiana, the 37 tornadoes was a record for one day (previously 21 on April 3, 1974), and the monthly total of 44 tornadoes (previously 30 in June 1973) was also a record. It also deadliest tornado outbreak since April 3, 1974 as 8 Hoosiers lost their lives, 6 in Petersburg.

According to Red Cross surveys of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky found 313 homes (237 in Indiana) and 141 mobile homes (106 in Indiana) destroyed and another 892 homes (665 in Indiana) and 173 mobile homes damaged (158 in Indiana) in addition to the numerous uprooted trees and destroyed barns.

Below is a surface map showing fronts and observations early on June 2. Map courtesy of the NOAA Library.

Surface Map of June 2 - Click to Enlarge

Indiana was covered by 2 tornado watches during the day. Click the images below to see a larger version. Images courtesy of the Paducah NWS office.

First Tornado Watch, click to enlarge

Second tornado watch - click to enlarge

 The text of a Public Severe Weather Outlook issued at 11:00 AM EST by the precursor to the Storm Prediction Center (SELS) follows below (courtesy of NWS Paducah):

...OUTBREAK OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS AND TORNADOES FORECAST ACROSS PARTS OF THE
 GREAT LAKES...OHIO AND MISSISSIPPI VALLEYS...

THE NATIONAL SEVERE STORMS FORECAST CENTER IN KANSAS CITY MISSOURI IS FORECASTING 
AN OUTBREAK OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS AND TORNADOES FROM EASTERN SECTIONS OF THE 
MIDDLE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY ACROSS MUCH OF THE LOWER OHIO VALLEY TO THE GREAT 
LAKES REGION.
THE STATES MOST LIKELY TO EXPERIENCE THE BRUNT OF THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM 
ACTIVITY INCLUDE ILLINOIS...INDIANA...EASTERN PORTIONS OF MISSOURI AND IOWA
...CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN WISCONSION...MUCH OF LOWER MICHIGAN...WESTERN OHIO AND 
NORTHERN AND WESTERN KENTUCKY.
AN UNSEASONABLY STRONG STORM SYSTEM CURRENTLY OVER THE CENTRAL PLAINS IS 
EXPECTED TO STRENGTHENAS IT MOVES QUICKLY NORTHEASTWARD TO THE GREAT LAKES REGION 
TONIGHT. A STRONG COLD FRONT EXTENDED FROM AN INTENSE SURFACE LOW OVER EASTERN 
NORTH DAKOTA ACROSS WESTERN SECTIONS OF IOWA AND MISSOURI INTO EASTERN OKLAHOMA 
AND NORTH CENTRAL TEXAS AT MID MORNING. THIS COLD FRONT IS FORECAST TO MOVE QUICKLY
EASTWARD ACROSS THE MIDDLE MISSISSIPPI AND LOWER VALLEYS AS WELL AS THE GREAT LAKES
REGION THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT. SOUTHERLY WINDS AHEAD OF THE FRONT WILL DRAW 
MOIST AND UNSTABLE AIR NORTHWARD ACROSS THE MISSISSIPPI AND OHIO VALLEYS INTO 
THE GREAT LAKES REGION. VERY STRONG WINDS ALOFT COMBINED WITH THE MOIST AND 
UNSTABLE AIR MASS WILL RESULT IN SEVERE THUNDERSTORM DEVELOPMENT ALONG AND AHEAD OF 
THE COLD FRONT OVER THE MIDDLE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY BY EARLY AFTERNOON. LINES OF 
SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS ARE THEN FORECAST TO MOVE QUICKLY EASTWARD ACROSS THE GREAT
 LAKES AND WESTERN SECTIONS OF THE OHIO VALLEY THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING. THE 
SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED TO PRODUCE DESTRUCTIVE TORNADOES...DAMAGING WINDS 
AND LARGE HAIL THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT. AGAIN...IT IS EMPHASIZED THAT 
THIS IS A DANGEROUS WEATHER SITUATION FOR PARTS OF MISSOURI...IOWA...
ILLINOIS...INDIANA...WISCONSIN MICHIGAN...OHIO...AND KENTUCKY.
ISOLATED SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS ARE ALSO POSSIBLE ALONG THE COLD FRONT IN 
MINNESOTA...ARKANSAS...WESTERN TENNESSEE...NORTHERN MISSISSIPPI...NORTHERN 
LOUISIANA...AND TEXAS. ALL INTERESTS IN THESE STATES SHOULD BE ALERT FOR SEVERE 
THUNDERSTORM DEVELOPMENT DURING THE AFTERNOON AND EVENING.
ALL PERSONS IN THE THREATENED AREA ARE URGED TO REVIEW SAFETY RULES AND 
LISTEN TO RADIO...TV..OR NOAA WEATHER RADIO FOR LATER STATEMENTS AND POSSIBLE 
WATCHES OR WARNINGS. THIS IS A POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS SITUATION FOR THE AFFECTED 
AREAS AND SHOULD BE MONITORED CLOSELY.

Below is the text of a Severe Weather Statement issued by the Indianapolis NWS Office at about 7:05 PM June 2:

...PLEASE ANNOUNCE IMMEDIATELY...
 

THIS IS AN URGENT APPEAL FOR ALL TORNADO SPOTTER ORGANIZATIONS TO ACTIVATE IN 
CENTRAL AND EAST CENTRAL INDIANA.
NUMEROUS TORNADOES REPORTED ON THE GROUND MAKE THIS THE MOST SERIOUS OUTBREAK 
OF TORNADOES IN SEVERAL YEARS.
FOR PLANNING PURPOSES...THE LINE OF STORMS AT 730 PM WILL BE NEAR 
ELWOOD...SOUTH THROUGH CENTRAL INDIANAPOLIS AND TO BLOOMINGTON.
 
BY AROUND 815 PM THE STORMS WILL HAVE MOVED EAST TO BETWEEN MUNCIE AND 
WINCHESTER...TO EAST OF NEW CASTLE...SHELBYVILLE...AND SOUTH TO COLUMBUS.
 
THIS IS AVERY DANGEROUS SITUATION...ALL INTERESTS SHOULD MONITOR THIS 
SAME SOURCE FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.

Below are some photos from June 2, 1990

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Tornado near Loogootee. Photo by Deputy Sheriff Tony Dant. Tornado at Loogootee. Photo from Loogootee Tribune.  Tornado in rural area between Monroe City and Petersburg. Petersburg would suffer more deaths than any other town on June 2, 1990. Photo by Bill Stedman. Aerial view of damage on the south side of Bedford near the intersection of State Roads 37 and 50. Photo from the Bloomington Herald Times.

 

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