Discover the Most Powerful Tornado to Ever Hit Indiana

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: May 11, 2023
Share on:


Indiana is a Midwest state known for its agricultural production and sprawling farmlands. While the state is not as famous as Texas for being struck by tornadoes, several twisters strike Indiana each year. Sometimes, incredibly powerful twisters strike the area, causing massive destruction. Learn about the most powerful tornado to ever hit Indiana. Find out how strong it was, where it hit, and what year it struck this state.  

How Are Tornadoes Rated?

Enhanced Fujita ScaleWind Speed
EF065 to 85 mph
EF186 to 110 mph
EF2111 to 135 mph
EF3136 to 165 mph
EF4166 to 200 mph
EF5Over 200 mph
The Enhanced Fujita Scale updated the original Fujita Scale to more accurately portray a tornado’s strength.

Trained surveyors go to an area after a tornado strikes and begin evaluating the damage. Based on the damage caused to trees, the ground, and buildings, these surveyors get a good idea of how fast the wind was blowing during the twister. In the past, the Fujita Scale was used as a way to rank the power of a tornado. That scale measured from F0 to F5. A higher number means that the tornado’s wind velocity and power were higher.

In 2007, the Fujita Scale was updated, and meteorologists started using the Enhanced Fujita Scale to rank tornadoes. Now, meteorologists have a more precise way to measure the power of tornadoes.  

How Many Tornadoes Does Indiana Get Each Year?

Indiana gets hit by about 22 tornadoes per year. While that is a far cry from the 132 tornadoes that strike Texas every year, each of these twisters has the potential to cause a significant loss of life and damage to properties. Few of these tornadoes are very powerful. In fact, just about a dozen tornadoes rated F5 or EF5 or higher have been recorded in Indiana.  

What Was the Most Powerful Tornado to Hit Indiana?

Joplin, MO, May 22, 2011, EF5 tornado damage

The Tri-State tornado was an EF5, and it did damage similar to what was witnessed in Joplin.

©Melissa Brandes/

The most powerful tornado to ever hit Indiana was the 1925 Tri-State tornado, a powerful tornado believed to be an EF5 at the time it struck. The Tri-State tornado struck Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, killing about 695 people while the overall outbreak killed about 751 people.

The tornado struck on March 18, 1925, and it ripped through the southern parts of all three states for over 200 miles before dissipating in Pike County, Indiana.

The tornado had estimated wind speeds of about 300 mph or more, and it reached a maximum width of about 1.5 miles.  This powerful twister churned throughout the three states, wreaking havoc everywhere it went. Homes, schools, and farms were left in ruins in the tornado’s wake.

Several towns and rural communities, like Griffin, were devastated by the tornado’s power.

What Animals Were Impacted by the Most Powerful Tornado in Indiana?

The Tri-State tornado cost many people their lives, homes, and properties. Animals were also affected by the powerful twister. Many different animals suffered as a result of this twister. Some of them were domesticated animals, but others were also wild. Some of the animals that were probably hurt in this region were:

These animals would have lost their homes, food supplies, or lives during the tornado. It’s almost certain some of each of these animals would have been affected during the twister.

What Was the Deadliest Tornado to Strike Indiana?

The deadliest tornado to ever strike Indiana was also the 1925 Tri-State tornado. The tornado killed 695 people, and 71 of them were in Indiana. Since then, no single tornado has killed so many people at once in Illinois or Indiana.

What Was the Strongest Tornado in U.S. History?

Bridge Creek Tornado

The highest wind speed ever recorded for a tornado was in 1999 in Bridge Creek, Oklahoma.

©Erin D. Maxwell / CC0 – License

The strongest tornado in U.S. history was most likely the 1999 Bridge Creek-Moore Tornado. A Doppler radar outpost detected wind speeds of about 302 mph or even higher. The EF5 tornado struck Oklahoma, killing 36 people and representing the fastest measured wind speeds on Earth.

Another contender for the strongest tornado in U.S. history was the 2013 El Reno Tornado. This twister struck on May 31, 2013, and it also touched down in Oklahoma. This tornado is believed to have reached wind speeds between 296 and 302 mph. This tornado is very interesting because it was the widest tornado ever measured.

The most powerful tornado to ever hit Indiana was 1.5 miles wide. Yet, the El Reno Tornado measured a monstrous 2.6 miles in width! The fortunate aspect of this particular tornado was that it mostly passed through open areas. That means it did not strike crowded downtown areas. Still, 8 people perished in the tornado and another 151 people were injured.  

What Was the Deadliest Tornado in U.S. History?

Large tornado forming

The Tri-State tornado set many records for destruction and loss of life.

©Nick Photoworld/

The deadliest tornado in U.S. history was also the Tri-State tornado that struck on March 18, 1925. This twister killed 695 people on its own. Another 56 people died in other tornadoes that touched down during the same tornado outbreak. The size, strength, and timing of the tornado all contributed to the high number of fatalities.

Modern meteorological tools are reducing the number of people that die in tornadoes. People have more time to react to the threat of tornadoes thanks to forecasting and radar. Moreover, individuals that live in areas prone to tornado touchdowns are learning how to protect themselves during storms. Future developments in the field of meteorology could help people predict tornadoes better, providing even more forewarning before they strike.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Eugene R. Thieszen/

Share on:
About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.