The National Weather Service has ruled that an EF2 tornado hit the town of Chesterton Wednesday night.
Meteorologists measured the width of the tornado at 60-yards, and the length at 2.5 miles.
The peak wind associated with the tornado was 125 miles per hour, and the touch down time was estimated at 7:32 p.m.
The tornado damaged dozens of buildings, including Chesterton Middle School and an apartment complex on Brown Street.
“The apartment complex over at Third and Brown you may have seen that, that’s catastrophic over there,” said Chesterton Town Manager Bernard Doyle. “I’m really surprised we didn’t have any injuries there.”
The entire roof of the six unit apartment complex on Brown Street was removed, along with six roof mounted air conditioners. “I had an air conditioner about 400-pounds hit the top of my garage roof and then fall right in front of my front door,” said Jim Maranto who lives across the street from the apartment building.
While official reports indicate that just one person suffered minor injuries in the tornado, Maranto knows he was lucky to get out alive. “I must be closer to God than what I think,” he said.
Maranto arrived at his home on Brown Court last night—about the same time the storm hit. “Well when I got home I parked my truck in front of the house and got out and I was going to get my mail. And I heard a big roar like a jet engine and a lot of stuff popping and cracking and flying,” Maranto said.
Maranto says he turned around to see a funnel cloud filled with debris. “The apartment building across the street, I started seeing the roof and stuff coming off of it and all I could think of is just get flat, on the ground by a telephone pole and just lay there and just hope things would fly by and they did.”
While the flying debris missed Maranto, it did hit his house. “There was a ten foot section of wall that broke in and pushed the dry wall in and broke the studs and everything,” he said. “I got two holes, one hole in the bedroom and one hole in the living room in the ceiling.”
Town Manager Bernard Doyle estimates that dozens of buildings suffered damage—with some was classified as minor and some was classified as major.
It didn’t take long for Doyle to become convinced that all the damage came courtesy of a tornado. “For this type of storm, relatively narrow, but long, it was about three to four blocks in width, and almost a mile and a half in length, and it did a hop scotch pattern,” Doyle said.
Chesterton Middle School was one of the buildings damaged by the tornado. The damage apparently came on the same day that a roof repair project at the school was completed.
“Yesterday they finally settled up and paid for the roof, it was all done, they signed the punch list, and today, it’s off,” said Chesterton P.D. Reserve Officer Dale Pflughaupt.
The damage to the school came on what was supposed to be the second day of this school year. “School started yesterday, and it was my first day at the Middle School,” said Abby Burke, “I’m a seventh grader. I mean it was all nice yesterday and then today its just gone—half the gym roof is gone and the floor is all torn up and everything.”
Burke and other children were working to remove fallen tree limbs from a playground near the middle school. “We came by after we went to go look at the middle school and I noticed all the sticks here, and some boys were helping to turn over the picnic bench, and I thought it would be nice if we could help pick some of the stocks and get them into a big pile.”
The tornado apparently hit without any advance warning from sirens located in the town. “We did have a problem there, and that’s something we’re going to be looking into, the sirens didn’t go off,” said Doyle. Doyle also claims that the tornado came after the official tornado warning issued for the area had expired.
A viewer sent us a link to some pictures of the aftermath. Click on the link below to view the damage this tornado left behind.