"Death Out Of Darkness" is a public safety documentary about the deadly tornadoes of the 11-April-1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak, which affected portions of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The film primarily focuses on the devastation across Northern and Central Indiana. Produced in 1966 by the Indiana State Police and WISH-TV in Indianapolis, narrated by Lt. Dave Levendoski. Video from visualarchivist on YouTube. There were 47 tornadoes in less than 12 hours. This was the 3rd deadliest tornado swarm in U.S. history. See Also: Ted Fujita


Below are personal recounts of the event. They have been submitted to us by our readers. If you would like to submit your story or photos please click the link in the upper right side of this blog.

From Crystal Lake to Grayslake Illinois

From Rob S:

FYI, that tornado borne over Druce Lake, IL is in error. That tornado was airborne and came from the Crystal Lake, IL area, then hopped over Grayslake (damaging winds), then touched down over the Picket Fence Farm barns (completely stripped all the wood decking and shingles) on Washington Street east of Grayslake (today Rollins Savannah forest preserve main entrance), then hopped over Third Lake picnic park on Linden Lane, then dropped into Third Lake and sucked up large amounts of fresh water and sprayed the eastern shore of Druce Lake, IL. Third Lake and Druce Lake are side by side. My four brothers and my father witnessed that segment of the tornado. The clouds were a mixture of green and orange and red, the whole segment of that tornado lasted about 30-45 seconds and freaked the hell out of us. We lived on the west shore of Third Lake (Grayslake address) in the town of Avon. My neighbors found US mail in their yards addressed to residents of Woodstock, Crystal Lake, and Cary, IL.

Luckily, a neighbor kid pedaled his bicycle from the south end of the neighborhood, to the north end where we lived. He told us that his father heard a radio broadcast that a tornado was on the ground in Crystal Lake, IL and that the storm was headed northeast toward Grayslake. Of course, we refused to believe him (he stayed for the storm too) until the blue sky and chirping birds quickly disappeared less than 5 minutes later. My father moved all of us indoors inside a garage structure and piled blankets and canvas all around us. The garage building (art studio) creaked and moaned with the extreme storm pressure change, and old wood dust from the roof boards and rafters floated down onto our heads and clothes. We saw fence posts, trees, and telephone poles fly through the air like twigs. After the tornado passed, the sky's opened with heavy rain for about 3 minutes. Afterward, the sky was blue and clear, as if nothing ever happened, except for the damage to buildings and trees. We were very lucky. We talk about the Palm Sunday tornado often.

In addition: That 1965 Palm Sunday tornado from the Crystal Lake area traveled all the way to the Zion - Beach Park area. It likely skipped and bounced along the way. Radio (AM and FM) broadcasts alerted many residents that the tornado was on the ground in Crystal Lake, before it arrived in Third Lake. It's path seem to travel east, northeast along Druce Lake Road (now Washington Street), then tilted northeast slightly.

Photo: Survey of Tornado Damage, Crystal Lake IL, 12 April 1965. Source: Fujita, et al, Monthly Weather Review, 1970

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