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Severe Thunderstorm Threat Over The Eastern U.S., Critical Fire Weather Likely Over The Southwest

A cold front will bring the threat for scattered strong to severe thunderstorms from the Mid Atlantic to New England into Saturday morning. Some of the storms could produce damaging winds and locally heavy rainfall. Dangerously hot and dry conditions will persist over the Desert Southwest this weekend. Critical fire weather conditions likely. Read More >


This photo was taken in Northfield by meteorologist Russ Conger.


Brandenburg, Kentucky

The tornado that devastated Brandenburg began five miles southwest of Hardinsburg and inflicted F3 damage to homes before it was even ten minutes old.  The tornado grew in size and intensity, reaching F4 strength near Irvington where it damaged 60 homes, and then entered Meade County.  There are no known photos of this historic tornado, and one reason for that may be that it didn't look like a typical tornado by the time it reached Brandenburg.  The twister was probably extremely wide (a "wedge" tornado) beneath a very low cloud base, and may have looked more like a solid wall of cloud rather than a slender funnel that most people associate with tornadoes.  Fifteen minutes after the National Weather Service issued a Tornado Warning for the Brandenburg area, the storm destroyed 128 homes and 30 businesses in the small town-- many of them swept completely away.  The 2400-foot-wide F5 took the lives of 31 people, 28 from Brandenburg alone.  The tornado crossed the Ohio River at F4 strength and then quickly dissipated over southern Harrison County.

Below are some photos of Brandenburg, from the archives at the NWS office in Louisville.  Click on an image for a larger version.  If you have any photos or stories you'd like to share, please let us know!


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Perry County and Depauw, Indiana

One of the region's only two officially confirmed F5 tornadoes began in western Perry County before striking off to the northeast, finally lifting in southeast Scott County.  The first photograph below shows the touchdown point in Perry County just outside Hoosier National Forest.  The next three were taken near DePauw in northern Harrison County.  Many thanks to Sandra Crosby for sharing these photos with us!






Cynthiana, Kentucky

Robert Debruler witnessed the strong F3 tornado that tore through Harrison County, Kentucky. Here, in his own words, is the frightening story of his experience:
I remember April 3,1974 like it was yesterday,Me & Ricky Nickerson was working for the City Of Cynthiana Garbage Company at the time & we was going around picking up garbage on Webster Avenue near the Harrison County High School. I remember Me & Ricky got back on the garbage truck & as soon as we got back on the garbage truck,THE WIND PICKED UP. The wind not only picked up,The wind had a roar that sounded like a freight train & it was a sound that we haven't heard before. Me & Ricky looked at each other & we wondered where that roaring noise was coming from,But we knew that it was very close to where we was at. So,Me & Ricky looked over towards the Harrison County Bus Garage & we saw what was making that roaring noise. It was a tornado. The tornado was a big one & it was on the ground picking up debris as it came very close to the Harrison County Bus Garage. Me & Ricky were on the garbage truck,when the garbage truck started shaking violently. The garbage truck shook like it was coming apart. I told Ricky we need to get off the garbage truck. Me & Ricky got off the garbage truck & we took shelter underneath the garbage truck. Me & Ricky laid underneath the garbage truck,as the tornado went on past the Harrison County Bus Garage. As soon as the tornado was out of sight,Me & Ricky got out from underneath of the garbage truck. Me & Ricky were shaken from our frightening experience. I thank God to this day that I am still alive. If it wasn't for God I wouldn't be here today. If it wasn't for God keeping his hand over me & Ricky Nickerson,We would've been killed in that tornado. If we didn't get off of that garbage truck,We might've been up in the air inside the tornado with that garbage truck & Thank God we got off of that garbage truck. 

The F3 Tornado That Hit Harrison County Ky On April 3,1974 was the biggest & strongest tornado that ever hit the county. The F3 tornado caused a lot of damage to homes & barnes north-northeast of the city of Cynthiana. The tornado came very close to where the Webber Sausage Company was on Carl Stevens Road. The tornado picked up some of the Webber Sausage tractor-trailer trucks like they were toys & threw them into the South Fork of the Licking River. "



Richmond, Kentucky

This F4 tornado touched down in Garrard County, tore across northwest Madison County, and finally lifted in Clark County.  Despite remaining in rural areas it still took seven lives and injured 28 people.  Thirty homes were destroyed.

These photos were taken from Commonwealth Hall on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University.  The tornado was about nine miles away from the photographer. 




Elk Horn, Kentucky

A half-mile wide F4 tornado began in Green County roughly midway between Greensburg and Gresham, and proceeded to the northeast across almost the entire length of Taylor County.  The tornado hit Mannsville squarely, where 40 buildings were destroyed and seven were leveled flat to the ground.  Thankfully, no deaths occurred, but there were 56 injuries.




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