CLARKSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Three rare midwinter tornadoes, one with winds of up to 100 mph, touched down in southern Indiana as a wave of severe thunderstorms cut across the state, leaving behind scattered damage, forecasters said.
No injuries were reported from Tuesday's tornadoes, which affected parts of three Ohio River counties and damaged businesses and homes.
Ron Trotter, a host at Chuy's, a Tex-Mex eatery on Veterans Parkway in Clark County, told The (New Albany, Ind.) News and Tribune that about a dozen customers and employees took cover.
"It was crazy in here," Trotter said. "The doors flew open. It was really loud."
The National Weather Service said the Clark County tornado was rated as an EF-0 storm with wind speeds of 85 mph, as was one that touched down in Jefferson County, which damaged an airplane at the Madison Municipal Airport. The winds moved an airplane and broke its nose gear and also damaged a hangar and an operations building.
The strongest of the three was an EF-1 with wind speeds of up to 100 mph that cut across Floyd County, the weather service said.
Mike Crow, a meteorologist with the weather service's bureau in Louisville, Ky., said that while severe thunderstorms are not uncommon in January, tornadoes are comparatively rare. He said records show that between April 30, 1950, and Sept. 30, 2011, Indiana recorded 1,508 confirmed tornadoes, but only 19 occurred in January.
In Floyd County, the storm blew roofs off some buildings and downed trees and power lines, said Ryan Houchen, a firefighter/EMT with the Lafayette Township Fire Protection District.
Floyd County Sheriff Darrell Mills said, "We were pretty fortunate. We just had minimal damage."
In Clarksville, high winds moved parked cars and overturned one, said Clarksville Police Department Chief Mark Palmer. He also said a building's awning was ripped off and driven into the fender of a parked car like a javelin.
Monty Schneider, superintendent for West Clark Community Schools, said students were kept safe as the line of storms that produced with tornadoes swept through the area.
"It's an unusual time of year to have these kinds of things, but we got kids in the hallways and everything during the tornado warnings, but that's just the typical procedure we follow," Schneider said.
Utica Elementary School had some minor roof damage and a storage container was blown about 100 feet from its original position, said Erin Bojorquez, supervisor of communications for Greater Clark County Schools.