HENRYVILLE, IND. -- Tornadoes are one of the most unstable forces in nature. They typically are born and die within minutes, within a few miles of their birthplace. This tornado, which dropped from the sky at 2:50 p.m. on March 2, barreled across Southern Indiana for the better part of an hour.
Remarkable, too, were the mechanics of the storm.
The typical Indiana tornado lumbers along at 30 mph. This one swept across the state at 60.
It was fast -- and it was powerful. Many Indiana tornadoes produce winds no stronger than 100 mph. This one? Its swirling winds whipped up as strong as 175 mph.
On the Enhanced Fujita scale, which gauges a tornado's ferocity on a scale of one to five, this tornado at times rated an EF-4. In short, it was one of the most powerful tornadoes ever to hit the state.
Born from a weather system that packed two supercells as it moved through Indiana, the tornado traversed a region of the state that knows what powerful storms look like. Residents along its path remember Hurricane Ike in 2008, tornadoes from 2004 and the last monster tornado that struck, in 1974.
But most who encountered those storms say that what hit them on March 2 topped them all.
Some described what was about to upset their lives as if it were a living animal.
It roared like a beast, they said, and ate the objects in its path. To others, it seemed to stalk them like a predator or pursue them as they fled.
Images of the tornado, captured in photos and on video, show a storm that expanded and contracted, produced fangs and pointed fingers. At times, the tornado even sprouted sisters.
Some accounts of the tornado were deeply personal.
The tornado pulled at people's skin, made their ears pop and their noses bleed. More than one person said the tornado lifted them off the ground. One person described a storm chase in which the tornado seemed to be the one doing the chasing. It ended with a father clinging to his daughter at the threshold of safety, only to feel the tornado try to pull her away.
The tornado cut across three counties (Washington, Clark and Jefferson) and a sliver of a fourth (Scott).
Along the way, it demolished mobile homes, manufactured homes, log cabins and even brick McMansions.
It swept into a state forest, thick with trees, and mowed down everything in its path.
It laid waste to Marysville, casting doubt on whether that tiny community will ever recover.
It delivered a direct hit to Henryville, thrashing the high school.
And it killed 11 people.
IndyStar.com contributed to this report
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