"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.


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Personal Stories:

Wisconsin and Illinois - Tornadoes and their paths April 11-12 1965
As the afternoon progressed, the tornadoes left Iowa behind in order to terrorize northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. At 3:20pm a tornado dropped to the ground west of Jefferson, Wisconsin, and charged northeast. For the first half of its life it chewed through the farmland and forests of Jefferson County. It then came upon Wisconsin Route 16, where two cars were heading west towards Watertown. The tornado snatched the cars from the roadway and flung them through the air, to have them land as crumpled masses of metal, crushing the three people inside. Further along in the tornado's path, a woman was just starting to descend the stairs to her basement when she saw her house disintegrate above her head.

Seven minutes after the Jefferson County tornado touched down, another tornado reached earthward in McHenry County, Illinois. It would become one of the most famous tornadoes of the day. It began its eleven mile path of destruction on the southwest side of Crystal Lake, near the public golf course. It rampaged across the southeast side of town, destroying subdivision after subdivision. The tornado brushed the junior high school, and ripped apart the Lake Plaza Shopping Center. In one neighborhood, known as Colby's Home Estates, the tornado was a quarter mile wide. One hundred fifty-five homes were damaged - forty-five of them beyond all repair. Five people were killed in the tempest. East of town, the tornado narrowed to a width of about 650 feet. It slid down a steep hillside without ever losing contact with the ground. The storm continued on and devastated the tiny community of Island Lake, killing one more person before it lifted a few minutes later. It would be classified as an F4. It lifted at 3:42pm.

Around 3:40pm, the Weather Bureau office in Chicago issued a tornado warning for the Crystal Lake Tornado.

At 3:50pm a tornado was born over Druce Lake in central Lake County, Illinois. It moved to just north of Gurnee, crossing Interstate 94, producing F2 damage. Today, this area is highly commercialized with malls and hotels, and heavily populated with new subdivisions full of huge, beautiful homes.

*NOTE There are several corrections/opinions on the 'Druce Lake' tornado. Please click on the personal story links at the top of this page.

Ten minutes later the third Chicagoland tornado in half an hour touched ground near Saint Charles. The Chicago weather office put out a tornado warning immediately. Nobody was killed, and the twister was relatively weak. It did manage to severely damage a dozen homes as it crossed US Route 30.

Several minutes after 4pm the storm system spat out one more tornado in southwest Wisconsin, and then took a rest. For an hour and a half, no tornadoes fell to earth. However, the people at SELS knew that the siege wasn't over. Not by a long shot.


Information and Photo Source: flickr user FirefoxTT
"A tornado occurred at Crystal Lake, Illinois, where it destroyed several subdivisions and a golf course. It grazed a junior high school then destroyed several homes in a community called Colby's Home Estates. 145 homes were damaged -- 45 beyond repair as well as a shopping centre. Five people were killed. The tornado then overtopped a hill and destroyed the small community of Island Lake, killing one more person before ascending back into the clouds at 3:42 P.M. This was one of a handful of F4 tornadoes that occurred during this outbreak."