At least one person was killed and another injured as high winds tore apart structures and hail the size of a tennis ball lashed counties south of Indianapolis, where at least one tornado was likely, officials said. authority.
A Martin County official said one person was found dead and another injured, but that first responders were searching for the victims and clearing trees from the streets. A tornado is suspected, but has not yet been confirmed by meteorologists. « This is here in the middle of the woods, » Monty Wolf, the director of the county’s emergency response team, said by phone. He added, « It’s a mess. »
In Johnson County, at least one tornado was considered likely near the city of New Whiteland, said Chad Swain, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Indianapolis. « We have other possible tornadoes, one in Martin County and another in Monroe County, » Swain said, adding that several homes were severely damaged.
Clips posted on social media appeared to show to the tornado ripping through the town of Greenwood, throwing debris into the air. A police department dispatcher said officials in the city, which has a population of about 65,000, were still working to assess the damage. The dispatcher would not comment on whether anyone was injured or killed in the storm.
« Please stay clear of affected areas in tonight’s weather as many areas around Johnson County have tornado damage, » Greenwood Fire Department said on Facebookurging people to drive carefully and plan alternative routes.
Cole Basey, a high school student in Greenwood, said he was at a friend’s graduation party as the tornado approached. He and his friends took refuge in a basement and he emerged to find trees downed and a nearby house burned to the ground. « I’ve never seen anything like it, » said Mr. Basey. « So it scared us a little bit. »
About seven miles southwest in the city of Bargersville, at least 75 homes were damaged after a tornado hit an area three to four miles long, but no one was injured, officials said at a Press conference. Power lines were down and officials were working to complete a secondary search of the affected areas, they said.
The Red Cross said it was coordinating with local officials to determine the needs of affected communities. “These needs may include shelter, access to food and water, health and mental health support, and more,” Stephanie Fox, a spokeswoman for the organization, wrote in an email, not that the situation was “actively evolving.”
Mr Swain, the meteorologist, said the storms were spurred by warm, moist air ahead of a cold front. By Sunday evening, severe weather had passed central Indiana and was moving east into Kentucky and Ohio. « The threat of bad weather will continue into the evening, » he said.
Scientists are still unable to determine whether or not there is a link between climate change and the frequency or strength of tornadoes. Tornadoes are relatively small, short-lived weather events, and because of this, there is limited historical data on their prevalence in the past; scientists need at least 40 years of weather data before they are able to draw a causal link.
Researchers say tornadoes appear to occur in larger « clusters » in recent years, and that the area of the country known as Tornado Alley, a region where most tornadoes occur, appears to be moving east. The timing of tornado seasons is also becoming more unpredictable, the researchers found, with earlier and later onsets than they did decades ago. The reason for this is not clear.
From Sunday evening, tornado watches remained in effect for several counties in Indiana and Kentucky.