June 2019 Summary: Severe Storms Strike

July 8, 2019 // Article by: Alex Carne

Temperatures during the month of June were generally near average across the Midwest, with Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus all ending the month within one degree of their monthly normals. Dayton was the warmest with an average June temperature of 71.5 degrees, while Chicago finished as the coolest location with an average temperature of 67.8 degrees. June was also characterized by a lack of extreme temperatures. There was one cool day on June 13th when high temperatures remained in the 60s across the region, and a spell of above average temperatures near the end of the month that delivered the only 90 degree temperatures in June. Otherwise, high temperatures generally didn’t deviate too far from normal through the month.

As is typical during the summer months, rainfall was highly variable across the region. Dayton and Chicago finished with slightly below normal rainfall with 3.80” and 3.05”, respectively. However, Indianapolis (7.51”), Cincinnati (8.20”), and Columbus (7.04’) all finished with rainfall amounts 3.00 – 4.00+ inches above normal. Rainfall frequency was high in June, particularly from June 8th to 24th where 14 - 15 of 17 days received at least a trace of rainfall from Indianapolis into southwestern Ohio.

The wet weather pattern was accompanied by a number of severe weather and heavy rain events across the region. Severe thunderstorms affected parts of the southern Great Lakes and Ohio Valley on June 1st, with some large hail near Chicago and downed trees due to thunderstorms in the Columbus area. Another cluster of storms on June 5th brought tree damage to the Indianapolis and Cincinnati metro areas, with thunderstorms just missing Dayton and Columbus.

Radar image of heavy rain and thunderstorms tracking away from Indianapolis and into Ohio. Another batch follows June 15th - 16th, 2019.  Courtesy of College of DuPage.

Around the middle of the month, a frontal boundary became stationary over Indiana and Ohio as waves of low pressure rode along it. Daily thunderstorms (some of which were severe) and areas of very heavy rain leading to flash flooding impacted Indianapolis, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati June 15th through June 21st.

Video of large tornado southwest of Indianapolis on June 15th, 2019, courtesy of Chris Breeden

The most notable severe weather event was on June 15th. While storms passed just south of the Windy City, several tornadoes struck Indiana, including the Indianapolis metro area. A total of 13 tornadoes were reported in the Hoosier State, with three tornadoes reaching EF-2 intensity (winds as strong as 135 mph). Two tornadoes occurred very close to Indianapolis: an EF-1 tornado just southwest of Beech Grove with estimated winds of 100 mph, and an EF-0 tornado to the east of Beech Grove with estimated winds of 70 mph. Tremendously heavy rain also accompanied the storms, with Indianapolis obliterating their daily record with 3.85” of rain.

This severe weather then pushed east into Ohio and slowly weakened, with a brief EF-0 tornado northwest of Dayton near the Indiana state line. Gusty winds caused some tree damage in the Cincinnati area as well. Heavy rain occurred in Ohio, with Dayton and Cincinnati (1.52” at both locations) setting daily rainfall records for June 15th. Scattered thunderstorms and locally heavy rain continued through the week, with Cincinnati getting another 2.38” (another daily record) on June 16th and Columbus doused with 2.65” (daily record) on the 19th.

The last week or so of June was not quite as active with more dry time sprinkled in, though some severe weather occurred. Severe thunderstorms tracked from central Indiana to southern Ohio on June 23rd, bringing scattered damaging winds with many trees reported down, especially near Indianapolis and Cincinnati. A strong thunderstorm on June 25th brought severe weather immediately north of downtown Chicago, with hail the size of quarters and wind gusts of up to 58 mph. Chicago remained busy on June 26th, 27th, and 28th with more scattered severe thunderstorms with large hail and gusty winds. Meanwhile, strong storms occurred just east of Cincinnati and Dayton with damaging winds on the 28th. After these storms, Chicago, Indy, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati all finished with highs of 90 degrees or better on the 30th as we turned the calendar to July.