Pre-dawn storms knock out power to thousands, close schools (2024)

EVANSVILLE – A line of storms ripped through the Tri-State before dawn Tuesday, knocking over trees, damaging homes and causing schools to close.

The weather sparked nearly continuous tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings as it worked its way from Southern Illinois across the Wabash River into Southwestern Indiana and Western Kentucky between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m.

After a brief lull, another line of dense storm clouds hurtled toward an already saturated Evansville, inundating much of the city with falling rain again around 10 a.m.

There were no immediate reports of injuries in Vanderburgh County Tuesday morning, according to Sheriff Noah Robinson who said deputies were canvassing damaged neighborhoods.

As of 11:30 a.m., CenterPoint Energy reported more than 15,000 of its customers in Southwestern Indiana were without power due to storm damage. Earlier reports from the company said power outages had impacted more than 22,000 customers.

Several hundred outages were reported by Kenergy in Western Kentucky, as well.

Locally, storm damage was scattered but easily visible early Tuesday after National Weather Service forecasters rightly predicted severe storms would slam the Tri-State Area with "damaging winds, tornadoes and large hail."

Photographs and video footage of the resulting destruction poured onto local social media channels as residents awoke to find downed trees, scattered debris and buildings with missing or shredded roofs.

The weather didn't spare Evansville's Wartime Museum at 7503 Petersburg Road. A photograph the museum posted online showed sunlight streaming into an aircraft hanger through gaping holes in the structure's roof.

All museum events are canceled until further notice.

In Vanderburgh County, northern areas near McCutchanville, Darmstadt and Melody Hills seemed to take the brunt of the storm. And while a small aircraft managed to weave through clouds to land at Evansville Regional Airport just after 7 a.m., the surrounding area lost power, leaving whole neighborhoods dark.

"It's a little rough out here in the county," Robinson told the Courier & Press. "Though, the city has some power outages as well. We're dealing with dozens of downed trees, and in some cases, power lines."

Stoplights and other critical infrastructure were affected by widespread power outages Tuesday, officials said, slowing traffic to a crawl on U.S. 41 at several intersections. The Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office asked that residents avoid "unnecessary travel and stay off the roads until further notice" in a social media post.

"We had a couple of crashes involving poor visibility and other crashes involving people striking road debris," Robinson said. The sheriff noted that deputies and county highway crews were actively responding to complaints of storm damage as they continued to remove obstructions from roadways.

Pre-dawn storms knock out power to thousands, close schools (1)

The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. announced it had canceled classes for the day after initially issuing a two-hour delay. Evansville's Catholic schools also closed, as did Evansville Christian School. Warrick County schools also closed.

Most school systems in Southwestern Indiana observed at least a two-hour delay.

Just after 10 a.m., the EVSC canceled Tuesday night's scheduled kindergarten open houses at seven elementary schools due to "ongoing power issues and storm clean up," the school corporation wrote in a Facebook post.

North of Evansville, damage was reported at a Super 8 hotel near the intersection of U.S. 41 and Interstate 64. A nearby storage building on Ruffian Way was destroyed. Treetops were torn off near homes along Baseline Road between U.S. 41 and Indiana 57.

Trees and utility poles were also knocked over in neighboring Posey and Warrick counties. According to the National Weather Service, wind speeds could have approached 100 mph near the Warrick County town of Tennyson. Other severe thunderstorm warnings issued Tuesday determined wind speeds could have reached 80 mph.

Cliff Weaver, the director of Vanderburgh County's Emergency Management Agency, told the Courier & Press officials were still investigating whether wind gusts, a tornado or some combination of the two inflicted the severe damage observed in the county's northern towns.

"We're currently evaluating the possibility of a tornado that started in Posey County and that came through the northern part of Vanderburgh County," Weaver said Tuesday morning. "We have several farms and old houses that are damaged or destroyed. We have teams working on that right now."

National Weather Service officials have also not yet determined whether the storm damage in and around Evansville stemmed from straight-line winds or tornadoes — though one meteorologist at the agency said there was a "decent chance there was both."

Pre-dawn storms knock out power to thousands, close schools (2)

More storms are possible Tuesday as a cold front works its way through the region. The Evansville area is in a "slight risk" zone for severe weather, while areas just to the east of the city are in an "enhanced risk" zone.

That also likely will delay any National Weather Service damage surveys in the area for a day.

List of school cancelations or delays in the Evansville area

  • EVSC, closed

  • Evansville Christian School, closed

  • Evansville Catholic schools, closed

  • Warrick County School Corp., closed

  • MSD of North Posey County, closed

  • North Gibson School Corp., closed

  • Signature School, two-hour delay

  • Evansville Day School, closed

  • MSD of Mount Vernon, closed

  • East Gibson School, two-hour delay

  • South Gibson School, closed

This story will be updated.

Pre-dawn storms knock out power to thousands, close schools (3)

This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: Storms winds cause damage; EVSC schools closed Tuesday

Pre-dawn storms knock out power to thousands, close schools (2024)
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