Weather Stories

20 years ago, an F3 tornado traveled 112 miles across Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It was an unforgettable day in central Indiana 20 years ago on September 20, 2002. A few tornadoes struck the state, but a long tracked F3 tornado was the most memorable. This tornado traveled 112 miles on the ground through central Indiana before lifting in Hartford City at 3:20 pm. The path took it through the south and east side of the Indianapolis metro area. For most of the tornado’s life, it was obscured by rain and embedded within a line of showers and storms.

Remarkably, this tornado was on the ground for 2 hours and 21 minutes with maximum winds over 160 mph. Ellettsville, Martinsville, and Greenwood were the areas where the tornado reached F3 intensity. Below is a radar image of the tornado once it got into the east side of the Indianapolis metro area.

Significantly, the tornado warning used the wording “tornado emergency” for the Indy metro area. This is the only tornado emergency for the metro area since they were instituted into the warning system in 1999. A total of 130 people were injured from the tornado, and it caused 156 million dollars in property damage.

September is usually not one of the most active months for tornadoes in Indiana, but this month in 2002 shows it can’t hurt to always be prepared. Video of F3 tornado damage from September 20, 2002 can be seen below.