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March 31, 2023, tornado outbreak update and its significance in US history

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — On Friday, March 31, 2023, a widespread and major outbreak of tornadoes tore across parts of the midwestern, southern and eastern United States.

This article will give an overall stat update and the significance this outbreak had on Indiana and the general U.S. as this is one that will be going into the record books. ***UPDATED AS OF APRIL 11, 2023***

So far, at least 134 tornadoes altogether have now been confirmed from Friday, March, 31, into Saturday, April 1. Of the 134 tornadoes, 122 of them took place within a 24-hour period.

From the standpoint of the entire outbreak, the 122 tornadoes in the 24-hour period marks it the fourth largest event in that specific timeframe in U.S. history. Forty-five of the 134 tornadoes were significant, which is anything rated EF-2 or higher.

The strongest tornado so far confirmed was an EF-4 that tracked 20 miles from Keota to near Iowa City, Iowa. Twenty-seven people were killed overall with nine of the fatalities coming from the Adamsville, Tennessee, EF-3 that tracked nearly 90 miles.

In Indiana, 23 tornadoes tore through in a span of only three hours from roughly 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Eastern with 10 of them being rated EF-2 or higher. This event is Indiana’s fifth-largest tornado outbreak on record. Here are the top five tornado events in Indiana history for reference:

The strongest tornadoes that took place in Indiana on March 31 were the following:

  • Sullivan in Sullivan County: EF-3; maximum winds of 155 mph.
  • Whiteland in Johnson County: EF-3; maximum winds of 140 mph.
  • Gas City in Grant County: EF-3; maximum winds of 140 mph.
  • McCormick’s Creek State Park in Owen County: EF-3; maximum winds of of 138 mph.

Unfortunately, five people were killed March 31 in Indiana. Three fatalities occurred in Sullivan County, and two people were killed at McCormick’s Creek State Park. The tornado that impacted Sullivan also killed three people in Crawford County, Illinois, before crossing into the Hoosier state.

Here are the important notes in regards to just how significant this event was for Indiana:

It is also worth mentioning that the last time Indiana saw more than one EF-3+ tornado in a single day was Memorial Day 2019.