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The Evansville Tornado of November 2005 was a powerful tornado that formed early in the morning of November 6, 2005, outside of Evansvillemarker, a city in Southwestern Indiana on the Ohio River. It was the first of several significant tornado events in the month of November 2005. The tornado resulted in 25 confirmed fatalities across the region, making it by far the deadliest and most destructive tornado in the United Statesmarker in 2005, and it was also the deadliest single tornado in the US since 36 died in Oklahomamarker on May 3, 1999. Significant tornadoes were also reported in western Kentuckymarker.

Meteorological analysis

The system formed on a cold front that tracked across the Midwest and stretched from the northern Great Lakesmarker to Tennesseemarker. The front was enhanced by a strong jet stream and warm, humid air ahead of it, allowing thunderstorms to develop. A severe thunderstorm watch was issued for the region just west of Evansville as the main threat appeared to be straight-line winds.The system had formed into a squall line but at about 1:30 am CST (0730 UTC), the squall line broke up in the Ohio Valley area, as the low level jet intensified, allowing embedded tornadoes to form rapidly out of newly-formed supercells. They were fairly isolated (only seven were confirmed across the entire region over a 24-hour period) but four significant tornadoes formed from two simultaneous supercells in southern Indianamarker and western Kentuckymarker — one of them was the deadly Evansville tornado.

Confirmed tornadoes

F# Location County Time (UTC) Path length Damage
F3 Evansvillemarker area Henderson marker, Vanderburghmarker, Warrickmarker, Spencermarker 0750 41 miles
(66 km)
25 deaths - see section on this tornado.
F3 Mattoon Crittendenmarker 0750 11.25 miles
(18 km)
Complete destruction to several homes, including a two-story house. At least five people were injured along its path, which was 150 yards (137 m) wide.
F2 Munfordvillemarker Hartmarker 1045 unknown Significant damage was reported in the community. Several buildings were destroyed and numerous others were severely damaged. Many trees fell across roads.
F1 Garrisonmarker Christianmarker, Douglasmarker 0200 17 miles
(29 km)
Overall damage was minor; only one home was affected.
F2 Myrtlemarker Oregonmarker 0420 7 miles
(11 km)
Two mobile homes were destroyed, many trees also fell.
F0 Tucker Ripleymarker 0500 unknown No damage reported from this brief tornado.
F0 Russellvillemarker Brownmarker 1225 unknown Brief touchdown in field according to public accounts. No damage reported.

Evansville area tornado

The track the tornado took across southern Indiana near Evansville

On Sunday, November 6, 2005 at around 1:50 am CST (0750 UTC), a tornado touched down 2 miles (3 km) north-northwest of Smith Mills in Henderson County, Kentuckymarker, near the Indianamarker/Kentuckymarker border, and then crossed the Ohio River into Vanderburgh County, Indianamarker. Staying just south of I-164, the tornado traveled to the northeast causing extensive damage to parts of Evansville, Newburghmarker, and Boonvillemarker in Indiana. The tornado finally lifted in Spencer Countymarker, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) south-southwest of Gentryvillemarker. According to a damage survey done by the National Weather Service office in Paducah, Kentuckymarker the damage path was at least 400 yards (365 m) wide and 41 miles (66 km) long. The tornado's maximum wind speed was estimated to be 200 mph (320 km/h), making it a high-end F3 on the Fujita scale.

Tornado warnings were in effect at the time and issued on average about 30 minutes before the tornado hit, but few people were alerted; many were asleep as the tornado hit in the overnight hours. The local NOAA Weather Radio transmitter was experiencing technical difficulties at the time causing some weather radios to not sound an alarm. The tornado killed 25 people; two of the victims died from injuries more than a month after the storm. Damages were estimated at around $85 million.

Ellis Park Racecoursemarker (a horse racing facility between Hendersonmarker and Evansville) was the first area to be devastated. The track suffered heavy damage; 11 of its 38 barns were destroyed and another 11 were damaged, and several of their racehorses were killed. Extensive tree damage also occurred in the area as the tornado leveled a swath of forests. The worst damage occurred in the southeast side of Evansville, where the Eastbrook Mobile Home Park suffered extreme damage from the tornado. Among the 350 trailers in the park, over 100 were flattened and another 125 were severely damaged. 20 people were killed in the park and another 230 were injured. Electricity service was cut for over 25,000 customers in the area after the tornado hit.

Severe damage was also reported in Warrick Countymarker, where five more people lost their lives. The communities of Paradise, DeGonia Springs, Newburghmarker, Boonvillemarker, and Tennysonmarker all sustained major damage, including houses damaged or destroyed, as a result. All five of the victims died in mobile homes. Four were of an entire family. The victims included a pregnant woman.


The community's response to the tornado garnered national praise. Brad Gair, a coordinating officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) noted, "I don't think I've ever seen a community of people come out so quickly to help each other. All communities come together after a disaster, but this one is exceptional." He also was taken aback by the hundreds of thousands of dollars that poured in from area residents and businesses. A local telethon helped raise the funds. "Just having a telethon that quickly was amazing," said Gair, "Then to raise that kind of money ... That's unusual."

On August 12, 2006 a granite monument memorial was built at the site, along with a new playground dedicated to the children lost in the tornado. It was part of a campaign launched by two parents that lost children in the tornado. In addition, Rep. Phil Hoy introduced a bill called "C.J.'s law" which mandates that manufacturers of mobile homes install an operating weather radio with a separate power outlet in order to alert residents. It was named after victim C.J. Martin. Vanderburgh County also passed legislation toughening safety standards for their 3,100 mobile homes, requiring them to be more securely anchored with additional straps and braces, to try to prevent another tornado disaster.

Ellis Park was successfully rebuilt and reopened on June 1, 2006 for training and the first races at the rebuilt facility were held on July 19, 2006.

Local television station WEHTmarker began a campaign after the tornado to provide weather radios to tornado victims for free, and to all for a discounted price. Even WEHT's competitors have now posted how to program a weather radio on their websites. This program has since spread to many different areas of the country.

Habitat of Humanity's Evansville Chapter launched construction of "Operation Home Again," the New Haven Subdivision, which are new homes dedicated to the survivors of the tornado at Green River Road and Fickas Road. The land was purchased in April 2006. The subdivision was named New Haven in May 2006 through a naming contest with area students. Julia Russ, a student at Good Shepherd School, submitted the winning name. When complete the subdivision will have 55 homes, a playground and a park. There are four streets in the subdivision – Inspiration Street, Healing Street, Promise Street, and Belief Street.

Kathryn Martin, who lost her son, C.J., her mother-in-law, and her grandmother-in-law, in the tornado, founded "C.J's Bus," a bus packed with toys for children that travels to other disasters in the United States to help children cope with natural disasters. She has started a foundation to support the effort.


Event death toll
State Total County County
Indianamarker 25 Vanderburghmarker 21
Warrickmarker 4
Totals 25
All deaths were tornado-related

The 25 deaths from the Evansville tornado made it the deadliest tornado event in Indianamarker since the Super Outbreak of 1974, when several tornadoes resulted in 47 deaths in the state. It was the most deaths caused in a single day by tornadoes since May 4, 2003 during the May 2003 tornado outbreak sequence when 39 were killed. It was the deadliest single tornado since May 3, 1999 when 36 were killed from the Moore, Oklahomamarker area tornado during 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak.


  1. - Tornado kills 22 in Indiana - Nov 7, 2005
  2. NCDC Storm Events-Select State
  3. Evansville Tornado on Nov. 6, 2005
  4. NCDC: Event Details
  5. 14 WFIE, The Tri-State's News Leader: Historic Tornado Outbreak Sunday
  6. NCDC: Event Details

See also

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