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Despite our Midwest location, the tropics can impact Indiana

Posted at 6:26 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 18:58:34-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Things are fairly quiet in the tropics right now. There's just one area of possible development, and that chance is just 10 percent.

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In early July, Tropical Storm Elsa crossed the southeastern U.S., staying well away from us. But whenever a storm approaches the U.S., we often get asked if it will impact us here in Indiana. You may be surprised by how often the answer to that question is yes!

Central Indiana may be more than 500 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, but that doesn't mean the Hoosier State always avoids impacts from tropical systems. Going way back in the history books to 1866, tropical remnants have crossed Central Indiana 21 times. That's about once every seven years.

This map shows the remnants of Hurricane Barry was the last system to travel through the state in 2019. It brought more than an inch of rain to Indianapolis.

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Tropical storms and hurricanes get their fuel from warm ocean water. That's not exactly something Indiana is known for. So, by the time these systems make the trek to us, they are typically weak.

They can produce some heavy rain and, on occasion, gusty winds.

One of those windy events happened when the remnants of Hurricane Ike roared into the state on September 14, 2008. Winds gusted between 50 and 70 mph for several hours that Sunday resulting in downed trees and power lines. That day also happened to be the inaugural Moto G-P at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Two people were injured at IMS when the damaging winds caused a partial tent collapse. Thankfully, the storm was a quick mover. By evening, the remnants of Ike reached into Canada.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs to the end of November. This year, tropical activity is forecast to be near to above average. A typical season brings 14 named storms and seven hurricanes to the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

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The WRTV Storm Team will keep tabs on the tropics all season, and alert you to any potential impacts coming our way.