National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

May 30, 2004 Tornado Outbreak

Surface Map valid at 4:00 PM EST
Surface Map valid at 4:00 PM EST May 30

On May 30, 2004, a warm front was draped across far southern portions of Indiana in the morning, as part of an unseasonably strong cyclone centered in Minnesota. This warm front began the day nearly stationary, taking 8 hours to move from Vincennes to Bloomington, then rocketing northward as the low pressure system quickly pushed off to the northeast late, dragging a cold front through the state during the overnight hours.

All the necessary ingredients for a major severe weather outbreak were falling into place. The first wave of severe weather came in the early afternoon, as supercells formed just south of the warm front. These supercells produced several funnel reports and confirmed tornadoes near Spencer and Ellettsville. Each of these tornadoes were rated F1 on the Fujita Scale.

Wave number two began in the late afternoon and continued into the early evening hours.  This wave of storms included a storm that produced tornadoes in Fountain and Tippecanoe counties, one of which was rated F2 near Dayton, just southeast of Lafayette, and a long-lived supercell that tracked along and just south of the I-70 corridor, producing tornadoes in Brazil, Little Point, Monrovia, just south of Plainfield, Camby, and Indianapolis. Power flashes from the Camby tornado were visible from the front door of NWS Indianapolis. The strongest of these tornadoes was the Indianapolis tornado, which briefly achieved F2 strength on the southeast side near Keystone Avenue between Raymond and Troy where there was significant damage to numerous homes, a nursing home and an elementary school. 26 nursing home inhabitants were treated at local hospitals for minor injuries, and the rest were relocated as the building was inhabitable. This tornado occurred within 10 miles of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where crowds were leaving the Indianapolis 500 race. In addition to this tornado, the Monrovia tornado was rated F1. All additional tornadoes from this particular supercell were rated F0, a rating corresponding to moderate tree damage and damage to outbuildings and signboards. There was also a lightning fatality in Veedersburg in Fountain County as a 24 year old male was struck while on a baseball field.

Radar Image valid at 6:30 PM EST
Radar image from 6:31 PM EST May 30

The final wave of severe weather came in the late evening and early nighttime hours, and was mostly in the form of wind damage, although brief tornadoes did occur along the squall line that had formed near the Mississippi River and tracked eastward, accompanying the passage of the cold front, including tornadoes near Lake Monroe and Crothersville in south central Indiana, and Atlanta and Frankton in north central Indiana. The tornado near Lake Monroe was rated F1, while all additional tornadoes were
rated F0. To complicate the issue, the repeated rounds of heavy rain caused flooding problems across much of the area, with several flash flood warnings and urban/small stream flood advisories being issued during the evening and overnight hours. Fifteen total tornadoes touched down in central Indiana on May 30th, with damage estimates approaching $13,000,000 for central Indiana alone. In all, an additional eight tornadoes touched down in portions of Indiana that are served by neighboring NWS forecast offices, bringing the statewide total for the day to 23, four over the yearly average of 19. This placed the May 30th outbreak as the second largest outbreak in state history at the time, behind the outbreak of 2 June 1990, and ahead of the "Super Outbreak" of 3-4 April 1974. 37 tornadoes touched down statewide in the 1990 outbreak, and 21 tornadoes touched down during the Super Outbreak, which was the largest outbreak of tornadoes in recorded history, with 148 tornadoes touching down across 13 states and southern Canada, killing 351 and injuring thousands.

On the map below, click on a highlighted county to see pictures from that area. (Note that pictures from the Bloomington area are no longer available) A table is also available at the bottom of the page with links to pictures.

Tornado Track Map




Marion, Morgan, and Hendricks Counties

Tippecanoe County

Fountain County

Madison County

Hamilton County

Clay County

Owen County

Jackson County



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