Franklin, IN F3 Tornado – October 11, 1954

SPC Stats:

Path length: 4.7 miles

Width:  100 yards

Fatalities:  2

Injuries:  0

Rating:  F3

County:  Johnson

In this summary, we look at an F3 that hit Franklin, IN on October 11, 1954.  Per the Climatological Data National Summary (CDNS), this tornado had a skipping path of about 5 miles.  It hit first WSW of Franklin and destroyed a church.  Two homes were damaged as well.  The tornado then lifted and then hit the western edge of town.  An auction barn was leveled and there were several injuries.  A total of 10 injuries is submitted in the CDNS report.  This differs from the SPC Database.  No injuries are listed with this event.  The tornado "jumped" again across Highway 31.  It was in this area that a home and barn were destroyed and there were two deaths.

I searched several newspapers to gather the details on the fatalities and it is such a tragic story.  Mrs. Colleen Williams, 24 years old was hit in the head by a falling tree limb.  She died at the hospital just a few hours after she received the injury.  

Mrs. Williams was expecting a baby.  Minutes after her death, doctors delivered her baby girl.  She was born 2 weeks prematurely and weighed 5 1/2 pounds.  Here is a clip from The Indianapolis News:

Tue, Oct 12, 1954 – 1 · The Indianapolis News (Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Sadly, the baby didn't survive.  

Wed, Oct 13, 1954 – Page 1 · The Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Storm Data Entry

Tornado dipped down about 4 miles west-southwest of Franklin destroying church and damaging 2 homes.  Funnel lifted to strike again near western edge of Franklin leveling auction barn and injuring several persons.  Twister next jumped across Highway 31, completely destroyed home, barn, and fatally injuring 2 persons, as well as heavily damaging 30 more homes.  Photographs made from air clearly show path of twister through corn fields. Much of path through open fields kept damage relatively low.

Tornado Path

Click map to enlarge.

SPC coordinates:  Start: 39.45 / -86.12      End: 39.50 / -86.05

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the October 1954 Climatological Data National Summary and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC have a 4.7 mile path length.
  • Grazulis and Storm Data have a length at 5 miles.

Injury Count:

  • SPC/NCDC have 0 injuries listed.
  • Grazulis and Storm Data have 10 injuries.

Sources:

The Storm Prediction Center

NCDC Storm Events Database

October 1954 Climatological Data National Summary

newspapers.com

Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 983.