INDIANAPOLIS — Officials cautioned residents in southwest Indiana that their weather radios might not be working on Thursday as a massive storm swept into the state like a scythe from its northern end to its southern tip, downing trees, flooding streets and raising warnings that things would likely get worse before the night was over.
The storm was part of a system that crossed the middle of the nation, from Canada to Texas, that triggered the National Storm Prediction Center to warn that tornadoes, 80 mph winds and 2-inch hail were likely to hit Indiana.
The storm front slanted first into northwest Indiana, where high winds damaged the roof of a 100-year-old home and forced the temporary evacuation of about four elderly women.
Benton County Sheriff B.L. Pritchett said the storm hit the town of Earl Park late Thursday morning, blowing bricks off the peak of the roof of the Jennie E. Caldwell Home and through the top of a carport that encircles the building. He also said the high winds also toppled about a dozen large trees and damaged two grain bins.
The National Weather Service in Indianapolis issued a flood warning for Tippecanoe County and an adjacent section of Carroll County after emergency management officials reported flooded roadways in the Lafayette area, including State Road 225 near Battle Ground, closed because of rising waters from the Wabash River.
The weather service said 2 inches of rain had fallen across the area Thursday, and as much as 1 inch of rainfall was possible during the evening.
The storm cut power to some residents in Earl Park, a town of about 345 people some 35 miles northwest of Lafayette. Further north in Lake County, heavy rains dumped standing water on city streets in Hammond and Munster and raised concerns about flooding on the Little Calumet River. State Police said the Cline Avenue exit of the Indiana Toll Road was closed due to high water.
The weather service said the Little Calumet River was nearing crest and moderate flooding was occurring. Crews at the riverfront said they had been out since 5 a.m. filling sandbags. Flood warnings were issued for rivers throughout the region as parts of the area received more than 2 inches of rain.
Calumet City Assistant Police Chief Dan Zorzi said some roads were closed but others were passable.
Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Deitchley said the agency was placing road signs to warn motorists.
"With all this rain, there is the potential any of our state roads could have issues with high water. If you see high water, don't drive through it," Deitchley said.
Public schools in Fort Wayne cancelled all after-school events due to the approaching storm.
The weather service bureau in Paducah, Ky., said Thursday that home weather radios in southwestern Indiana, southern Illinois and southeastern Missouri may not be properly activated by warnings issued by the agency due to "a major telecommunication outage." Media and emergency management services were still receiving warnings, the weather service said.
Radar displays at Evansville may also have delays, the agency said.
Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor said the weather might be only a taste of what is to come.
"I understand the worst might still be before us. We usually get the brunt of the water six to 12 hours after the heavy rains," Snedecor said.