Tornado April 3rd, 1974

Photography Prints


Probably one of the most devastating weather days in America was April 3rd,1974 when 147 tornadoes struck in 12 states.

In southeastern Indiana, it was turning into a stereotypical stormy spring  day. The weather was extremely unsettled, one minute the sun was shining, the next raining and the next a hail storm would be descending upon us.

Driving was extremely hazardous, the wind was blowing constantly while changing direction and speed every minute. From past experience and knowing the time of year, it had to be realized, something extremely bad was going to happen. About noon the storm warnings started being posted, everything from severe storms, hail and tornado watches were seen everywhere in the midwest. This was not going to be a good day.

It was about 4 PM when I heard a warning had been sounded for the area I was traveling, Switzerland County which borders the Ohio River near Madison. A large tornado had been spotted in Jefferson County, southwest of us. The tornado was reported to be in Madison and was creating widespread destruction as it traveled in the traditional northeasterly direction.

Looking to the southwest, I saw the granddaddy of them all. The whole sky seemed to be one gigantic funnel cloud. This is not good! Later I found out when the tornado crossed the Ohio River near Madison, the river bottom,  30 feet below the water level could be seen.

Driving on, looking for cover, I came to a house where two people were standing in the yard watching the funnel cloud, I drove in and asked if they had a basement.

Their answer,”No”.

Damn, the only house in Indiana without a basement, and here I am. There was no basketball hoop either, these people aren’t real Hoosiers!

Looking upwards to the sky, It seemed the tornado was dissipating, in a hurry I decided to go on my way, wouldn’t be safe here anyway, no  basement. Might as well take my chances lying in  a ditch.

My mind was soon  changed, as I driving onto the road, as I  looked up, the tornado had again started to descend, it was so close I couldn’t see the edge of it above me.

The tornado  began to touch down, an eerie silence was felt,  only the distant  roar of the tornado force winds could be heard. Where we stood, not a leaf turned, the wind died down completely. It was like watching a movie, with as many as three funnel clouds touching down simultaneously, trees were snapping off like toothpicks, a farm implement dealer was struck, tractors, combines, and other farm implements were flying through the air with the greatest of ease. A mobile home park was in the path, mobile homes would ascend about 100 feet into the air and explode.

I was envisioning a death toll of hundreds, possibly more as the tornado had struck several larger towns and small cities.My day was over, I followed a fire truck through the destruction, they were cutting trees from the road as they traveled. People were standing alongside the roadway, most wore ashen white faces and were in total shock. It was then I found another tornado had struck close to my home and I began to worry about my family and their safety.

All in all things turned out reasonably well ,we were in pretty good shape for the mess we were in, the property destruction was major and many amazing stories of survival would surface over the next few weeks, however  as bad as even one death is, very few casualties were encountered.

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 The author has been a writer/ photographer for over 20 years, specializing in nature, landscapes and studying native cultures. Besides visiting most of the United States, he has traveled to such places as Egypt, the Canary Islands, much of the Caribbean. He has studied  the Mayan Cultures in Central America and the Australian Aboriginal way of life.Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in many different parts of the world!

He has published several books about the various cultures he has observed.

For more information and a link to his hardcover and Ebooks, and contact information: please check his website,

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