This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Another tornado? (Updated)

I heard the tornado sirens go off again this morning, but did not think much of it because there was virtually no wind at my house. But then I heard reports that there were trees down at St. Joseph's. I rode out and did not see anything unusual, but did hear chain saws and a shredder. At the south end of the campus there was a short and narrow path of devastation. The only man-made structure that I saw damaged was the welcome-to-Rensselaer sign that welcomes people from the south.
A couple of trees east of US 231 were down, one that had rot snapped, and one that was healthy uprooted.
A much larger tree that had dominated the field south of Schweitermann Hall was also uprooted. Its absence will change the look of that whole area.
Along the road that forms the southern boundary of the campus (Shuster Drive?) several trees were down and others were damaged. Some large branches from one of the huge willows were on the ground.
Pretty much everyone who was available was cleaning up the damage. The branches were being picked up and fed into the shredder, and the large tree trunks were being cut up and loaded onto a truck. The trees that had been extensively damaged were being cut down.
One of the workers said that a small tornado had touched down briefly. It was coming from the direction of Lake Banet, heading ENE. Once you got away from this small path of destruction, there was no real evidence of the storm. There was, of course, plenty of evidence of all the rain--pools of water are everywhere.

At the beginning of the destruction are two tree trunks that once were parts of healthy trees.
I wanted to follow the path and see if there had been more signs of damage once it crossed US 231, but the next wave of storms was approaching from the west, so I got out of there.

Are you as tired of this weather pattern as I am?

Update: This evening I got a chance to take a more leisurely look at the path of destruction and found that the storm was much bigger than I had initially thought it was.

There were about ten trees down in College Woods, but there was no obvious damage to the houses. Entering the subdivision from Mt. Calvary Road, one could see one tree that had been knocked over onto another tree, breaking the second tree.
There was a steady steam of cars through the woods as lots of people checked out the storm damage.

Another impressive fallen tree was just a bit further on the road. It had been uprooted.
Much of the mess at Saint Joseph's College was still there. The afternoon storm stopped the clean up.

I had a picture of this old elm earlier, but without people it is hard to judge just how big the tree was. It may have already been a sizable tree when the college was founded. Maybe the Indians from the old Indian school played around it when it was a young tree. I hope someone counts the tree rings when it is cut up.

I talked to a person who was watching the storm out a window in Schweitermann because the noise had attracted her attention. She said that it was raining very hard, so it was hard to see much, but the trees were knocked over in seconds, so fast that she was not sure what had just happened. Her viewpoint did not allow her to see the big tree knocked over.

After crossing the highway, the twister passed over a field and then toppled at least four trees in the woods behind Drexel Hall. In the picture below you can see one tree that has been uprooted, and to its right is another that has been split. The wind must have hit the old hog barn, but does not seem to have done additional damage to this derelict structure.
Leaving the woods, the tornado headed for Drexel Drive. People told me that it knocked over a semi, but there was no evidence left of that this evening. Before it did that, it encountered the new USDA building and tore many of the shingles off the southern side of its roof, the side that you cannot see from Drexel Drive.

From there the twister passed west of Con Agra and just nicked the southeast corner of the Babcock Quarry. If you look closely, you can see a couple of trees that it broke or uprooted at the edge of the quarry, but I could not get a good picture of them.

Looking down the trail of destruction, it seemed that the tornado was headed for the large antenna at the CenturyLink building. I rode over to check it out and could not see any damage to the building or the antenna, but there were trees down in the woods to the east of the building. I could not see how many because the whole area was heavily overgrown, but it looked like quite a mess in there.

There is always a silver lining to the storm clouds, and the resulting pools were great fun for the small boys who found them.
What did I miss?


Anonymous said...

Reminds me of Florida. Sunny mornings followed by afternoon showers. Of course there are a few differences...


Anonymous said...

Those are some very incredible pictures! Thank you for sharing and I agree that the absence of that tree will certainly make a difference in the area.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a surprise.

Anonymous said...

My niece said she saw the tornado from a window at the high school as it passed by there.

Anonymous said...

It seems silly to be sad about a tree when others have lost so much, but I loved that old elm tree. :(

Capouch said...

This is an awesome chronicle. Thank you so much for providing it.

Anonymous said...

I really thought this was a confirmed tornado, but the news is reporting is as strong winds.....which is it?

Anonymous said...

I have a personal pic of that tornado that hit Rensselaer that day on my cell phone and I seen it all the way over here in Brook where I live!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I still have that pic on my cell phone...

Anonymous said...

I would love to see that pic! There was also damage about 7 miles west of rensselaer, looks like thats where the twister started.

Dessert Survivor said...

There were multiple tornadoes on Wednesday, at least four in Jasper and Newton County, so what you saw near Brook was a different tornado.

If you send the picture to me at rensselaeradventures at and give me permission to publish it, I will.