LOWELL — Thursday's storm damage here was caused by a weak tornado, the National Weather Service confirmed Friday.

It was the first tornado since 2015 to hit Lake County.

An EF-0 tornado with estimated peak winds of 80-85 mph hit the outskirts of Lowell on Thursday afternoon, traveling about 1½ miles over two minutes with an estimated maximum width of 75 yards, according to the National Weather Service.

David Brock said his 19-year-old son was at home shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday when heavy hail outside his window suddenly transitioned to strong winds that sent items flying around the yard.

"He thought something was going to come busting through the window," said Brock, who serves as pastor at the Lowell Church of the Nazarene.

When the short storm passed, Brock's son stepped outside and discovered part of the nearby Nazarene church room's roof had been torn off by the wind.

Lowell's trees took the brunt of the damage, though property damage was also reported, with a tree reportedly falling on a house.

In the church's case, the building was damaged in multiple areas. 

"It folded off and is laying on top of the (rest of the) roof right now," Brock said Friday morning.

The short burst of wind also damaged the foundation and door of a nearby garage, Brock said. A wooden fence along the north end of the property blew down and a vinyl fence to the south also was damaged.

"All the slats got yanked out of it," he said.

Brock said his son thought he saw some rotation in the storm clouds overhead when the damage occurred.

The National Weather Service in Romeoville, Illinois, reported that a funnel cloud had been spotted shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday in Lowell.

There also were reports of downed trees, damaged power lines and other property damage, labeled by the NWS as "possible tornado damage," and was later confirmed. 

While the hole in the roof of the church was quickly covered Thursday with a tarp, a more thorough fix was being sought Friday because water was finding its way into the building, Brock said.

The NWS posted nothing about a funnel cloud Thursday afternoon in Porter County, but Pleasant Township resident Charlie Douthett is among those who said they saw and photographed what appeared to be just that.

Douthett said he was outside his home at 2:21 p.m. when the rain suddenly stopped and he heard a noise he described as continuous thunder. He looked off in the distance and snapped a photo of what appears to be a funnel cloud.

"I'm not sure what was going on in that cloud," he said.

Kandyce Kimble, of Kouts, was driving her 4-month-old son in his car seat for his nap Thursday afternoon when she saw what appeared to be a funnel cloud and quickly went home. Her son slept through it all, she said.

The Porter County Highway Department reported Friday that it had received no reports of storm-related damage.


Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.