On Palm Sunday, 11 April 1965, the United States reeled under the largest single-day outbreak of tornadoes documented to date in its history. On that day, 47 confirmed tornadoes struck the states of Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. (The event is now the second greatest outbreak, surpassed by the April 1974 Super Outbreak.) Across these states, the 12-hour long tornado rampage killed 271 people, injured nearly 3500 more, and incurred property damage that reached over a quarter billion dollars at the time. An adjustment to current dollar value would peg the damage at over $1.6 billion.
The event would have major influences on my life, though I was not at any of the tornado touchdowns, being about 20 miles (32 km) south of the most destructive to hit Northern Illinois that day: The Crystal Lake-Island Lake member of the eastern Illinois-Wisconsin family in the outbreak swooped down through my uncle's neighbourhood, causing almost complete devastation across the street. Fortunately, my aunt, uncle and two cousins were not at home, so there were no physical injuries suffered to them. Their house, however, was a mess.