I started working for the National Weather Service in the fall of 1973 at the forecast office in Raleigh, N.C. as a Meteorologist Intern. The spring of 1974 was my first severe weather season as a National Weather Service employee. The tornado outbreak affected only a small portion of western North Carolina toward the end of the outbreak, but I remember how busy everyone in our office was during the entire event. I wondered what I had gotten myself into if all severe weather events were going to be like this one.
I grew up in northern Indiana, and went to Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Ind. Purdue was very close to some of the very damaging tornadoes that ravaged northern Indiana. My wife (then fiancee) Lisa was at Purdue during this event, and I was very concerned about everyone's safety at home as I watched tornado warnings and storm reports type out on the teletype machines we used to move information back then.
Twenty-five years later, there are still some subtle signs of that tornado outbreak. The tornado that devastated Monticello, Ind. and moved along a nearly continuous track across northern Indiana, passed only a few miles from where the new National Weather Service Office for Northern Indiana is located. There were 17 tornadoes reported in the 37 counties the Northern Indiana Office now serves during this outbreak, 27 people were killed, and 474 people were injured. Tragic numbers, but a big improvement from the Palm Sunday Outbreak of April 11, 1965 when 167 people were killed and 2,347 people were injured in the same general areas.
We hope that today, with Doppler
radar technology and vastly improved communications, the numbers
will be even lower the time there is a major tornado outbreak.