Fast-moving storms in central Indiana took many by surprise

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. – Despite the forecast calling for stormy weather on Saturday afternoon, many of those caught in the storm’s path said they were surprised by its speed and severity.

“The wind started to pick up a bit, then boom, it sounded like a train passing,” said Edinburgh resident Rebecca Roberts. “Everyone is shouting, ‘Do we have to take cover? Should we take shelter? and all that stuff because we didn’t hear any sirens.

Not far from Roberts’ home, the National Weather Service confirmed that an EF-0 tornado touched down and severely damaged the Camp Atterbury post chapel. The tornado was only on the ground for a minute or less before straight-line winds of 80 to 90 miles per hour continued on an eastbound path along National Road 252 to Edinburgh. Before long, around 90 per cent of Edinburgh was without power as trees and branches collapsed in neighborhoods and the newly installed scoreboard at Edinburgh High School was destroyed.

“No idea, no alarm went off, whatever,” Edinburgh City Manager Dan Cartwright said. “There was absolutely nothing, except just the weather forecast”

In nearby Nineveh, firefighters had to rescue a 13-year-old girl who was trapped by a large tree that fell on her house.

“She had bumps and bruises, she was complaining of a headache, she had a cut on her head, a bump on her elbow,” said Steven Stahl, a firefighter from Ninewa Township. “We had no warning. It was completely sunny 10 minutes before.

Johnson County Emergency Management Agency Director Stephanie Sichting said the severe weather moved in and out so quickly the agency never received notification from the National Weather Service to activate the sirens of tornado. While a severe thunderstorm watch was issued for Johnson County shortly before 2 p.m., a tornado warning wasn’t issued until the storm had already moved into Shelby County, it said. she stated.

While tornado sirens have long been used to warn of inclement weather, public safety officials said it’s best for Hoosiers to rely on more modern tools to stay on top of weather conditions. Cartwright pointed out that storm sirens are primarily designed to warn people outside and aren’t always the most effective way to be aware of the weather.

“When something so fast happens, there’s no way,” he said. “I mean, you have to be prepared.”

Public safety officials said it’s best for Hoosiers to use tools like the Weather Authority smartphone app, which is available in the Apple and google play stores. The app provides access to live radar, conditions and current watches and warnings. Security officials are also encouraging individuals to invest in a NOAA weather radio, which can provide round-the-clock coverage of severe weather information. Weather radios can usually be found anywhere electronics are sold. Information on finding and programming a weather radio can be found on the National Weather Service website.

Lance B. Holton