November 6, 1885, around 5:45 p.m., a significant tornado moved southwest-northeast through White County & Posey County south & southeast of New Harmony for a +40-mile track. Up to 1/4 mile wide, this tornado killed 1 person & injured many. Many buildings & homes were damaged or demolished with $50,000 (1885 dollars) in damage in White County, alone. Damage reports point to this tornado being a high-end EF3 or low-end EF4 with the highest rating near Carmi.
This tornado was reportedly highly visible. Eyewitnesses reported it as “funnel-shaped”, “revolving contrary to the hands of a watch”. Thankfully, this tornado dodged towns & many farmsteads or the death & injury toll would have been much higher. One home (where there was 1 death) was completely demolished, while a nearby Baptist church was destroyed. A weaker, secondary tornado was reported in White County near the parent tornado (a satellite tornado, which occasionally occur with the stronger, violent tornadoes).
Another tornado killed 1 person & damaged/destroyed buildings & homes at Dawson Springs in Hopkins County. This storm may have produced a tornado also on the Christian/Hopkins line with barn destruction, accompanied by large hail. Apparent tree damage from straight-line wind also occurred with this storm in this same area.
This was part of a major tornado outbreak from Iowa to Alabama with many significant, long-track tornadoes. Homes & farms reportedly completely “disappeared” in central Alabama (13 people killed, 50 “dangerously injured”) with only part of foundations left by a long-track, major tornado. Similar reports occurred with a tornado in the northeast part of that state to near Chattanooga, Tennessee. In a tornado much farther to the north, building debri was found 15 miles from a tornado track north of Burlington, Iowa.
A fast-moving tornado over central Illinois was up to 3/4 mile wide & caused destruction in long swath.
Interesting, odd, apparent ball lightning was reported at Terre Haute, Indiana in “incredible lightning show” with “loud thunder”. A train car house was blown down in the storm in that city, as well. Northwest of Terre Haute, near Paris, Illinois, livestock were injured & fields of young wheat was smashed by hail of walnut size.
Reportedly, the worst hail storm up to that time in Monroe County, Indiana (near Bloomington). Jagged hail with some having many sharp, protruding edges at (over 2.5″ diameter stones) pummeled a strip across the county as the storm moved south-southwest to north-northeast.