"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
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|Iowa tornado paths April 11-12 1965|
The day was going to be busy, it was apparent right from the start. A strong springtime storm system was developing over the Central Plains, and all the ingredients for severe weather were present. Warm, very moist air was flowing northward from the Gulf of Mexico with cool air rushing down from Canada to meet it. A jet stream streaked across the country from southern California to northern New England, passing right over the developing surface system. Analysis of the7 am surface chart showed a large red "L" drawn just about on the center of the map. Low pressure was deepening over western Iowa. From this low center a warm front reached east across central Illinois to central Indiana, and then snaked its way to South Carolina. In the other direction, a cold front dropped south to the Ozarks and then southwestward to the Big Bend region of Texas.
At 1045am, the Severe Local Storms Center, SELS, in Kansas City issued a statement concerning the possibility of tornadoes that afternoon from northeast Missouri across central Illinois to north central Indiana.
Around 1pm, the SELS forecaster issued a tornado forecast (analogous to today's tornado watch). It covered central and northern Illinois and southernmost Wisconsin. Unbeknownst to him, the first two tornadoes of the day had touched down fifteen minutes earlier.
The cumulus had risen into thunderheads by the dinner hour, and at 12:45pm a funnel snaked its way out of one of those clouds, and hit the ground near the community of Tipton in Cedar County Iowa. It quickly grew and produced F4 damage to two dozen farms. A man near Lowden was battered by the swirling debris as he ran for his storm cellar. He died the next month.
Though it was apparent to most meteorologists that the weather on that eleventh day of April was going to be much more dangerous than usual, nobody imagined that the Lowden tornado would be the first of thirty-nine twisters to tear up the Midwestern landscape over the course of the afternoon and evening. Nobody dreamt that those tornadoes would carry death to 260 people.
At 2pm, the storm experts at SELS noticed that the jet stream was splitting into two branches, like a river flowing around an island. That island was located above and along the Illinois/Wisconsin border.