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Indianapolis weather: 9 tornadoes hit Indiana, 2 in Marion County

Indianapolis Star logo Indianapolis Star 6/17/2019 Justin L. Mack
Storm damage in Beech Grove, Indiana, where a strong storm and possible tornado came through on Saturday, June 15, 2019. © Matt Kryger/IndyStar Storm damage in Beech Grove, Indiana, where a strong storm and possible tornado came through on Saturday, June 15, 2019.

As crews from the National Weather Service continue to assess the widespread damage caused by powerful storms that tore through the state Saturday night, the number of confirmed tornadoes in the state has climbed to nine. 

The rash of twisters includes two touchdowns in southeastern Marion County separated by just seven minutes and about 7 miles. The first tornado was an EF-1 storm that touched down at 7:26 p.m. Saturday southwest of Beech Grove.

According to the NWS, the storm traveled 1.86 miles, crossing Emerson Avenue to damage Beech Grove High School and the Beech Meadow apartment complex before coming to an end at 7:30 p.m. The tornado had peak wind speeds of 100 mph and a width of 200 yards.

Storm damage in Beech Grove, Indiana, where a strong storm and possible tornado came through on Saturday, June 15, 2019. © Matt Kryger/IndyStar Storm damage in Beech Grove, Indiana, where a strong storm and possible tornado came through on Saturday, June 15, 2019.

The second Marion County tornado touched down near Brookville Road and East Raymond Street at 7:37 p.m. The brief, EF-0 storm produced 70-mph winds and traveled 0.9 miles before ending at 7:38 p.m.

Living through the storm: 'There was this giant boom': EF-1 tornado damages apartments in Beech Grove

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Here are the other tornadoes confirmed by the NWS office in Indianapolis:

• An EF-1 tornado producing 110-mph winds traveled 8.22 miles after touching down just southwest of downtown Freedom in Owen County. The tornado had a width of 200 yards and was on the ground between 6:29 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.

• An EF-2 tornado producing 130-mph winds traveled 3.7 miles after touching down west of North Crowe Road in Greene County. The tornado had a width of 400 yards and was on the ground between 6:48 p.m. and 6:58 p.m.

• An EF-2 tornado producing 130-mph winds traveled 3.52 miles after touching down just southwest of downtown Freedom in Owen County. The tornado had a width of 400 yards and was on the ground between 6:56 p.m. and 7 p.m.

• An EF-2 tornado touched down south of Rushville in Rush County shortly before 9 p.m. The exact timing, path of travel and peak wind speeds were not available as crews were still assessing the damage Monday afternoon. According to the NWS. EF-2 tornadoes produce winds between 111 mph and 135 mph.

Additionally, the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, Ohio, confirmed that tornadoes touched down in rural areas of northern Union County; near Bentonville in Fayette County; and at the Richmond Mall in Wayne County.

While not one of the states that make up the region known as Tornado Alley, tornadoes aren't unusual in Indiana. In fact, an October 2018 study suggests that twister destruction is trending up in the Midwest and Southeast, while declining in the Great Plains. 

According to "Spatial trends in United States tornado frequency," a study led by Northern Illinois University Professor Victor Gensini and Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Laboratory, this eastern shift in tornado activity has been taking place over the past four decades.

The infamous Tornado Alley, which has a core of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska, still leads in number of tornadoes, according to the study. But storm data shows that an area that includes Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Missouri is catching up.

a close up of a map: A new study finds that tornado activity is generally shifting eastward. © Francois Duckett, AP A new study finds that tornado activity is generally shifting eastward.

The study says the number of tornadoes has remained relatively constant, but where they've been happening is changing. Specifically, there are fewer tornadoes in the Plains and more in the Midwest, including Indiana, and Southeast. 

About 1,200 tornadoes hit the U.S. every year, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory. Tornadoes outside the Great Plains tend to be deadlier because of factors such as longer, larger tornado paths, expanding populations, more mobile homes, and more nighttime tornadoes. 

Call IndyStar reporter Justin L. Mack at 317-444-6138. Follow him on Twitter: @justinlmack.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indianapolis weather: 9 tornadoes hit Indiana, 2 in Marion County

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