The tornado that struck Newton in June 1990 was part of a major twister outbreak in the Midwest from June 2-3, based on National Weather Service reports on that destructive weekend.
In all, there were 65 tornadoes confirmed that laid waste to 313 homes, 141 mobile homes and many other structures across parts of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. There were several other Illinois communities suffering damage that June, but Indiana communities suffered the most with 37 tornadoes in that state, a record for a 24-hour period at the time for the Hoosier state. Eight Indiana residents were killed, including six in Petersburg.
The mass of tornadoes from that June was far from a record for the Midwest. During April 3-4, 1974, 143 twisters made up the what became the Super Outbreak that caused damage and deaths across many states and into Canada. There were 30 F4 or F5 tornadoes formed during that 24-hour period.
The twister that started in Jasper County traveled more than 12 miles before going aloft and then touching down again across the Wabash River. The tornado was an F4, one of seven that June weekend reaching a power level to cause so much damage. Tornado strength is measured by an enhanced F-scale from F0 to F5 that considers 28 different types of damage to structures and trees.
The Newton tornado caused several injuries, but no deaths in the community. One factor was the erratic path of the twister. It seemed to strike some structures and then bounce past others. The path of the tornado also avoided the center of Newton, where a St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church was holding a Mass in its former church building and a wedding celebration was also underway in town.
Nearly three months after the Newton tornado, a twister devastated the northern Illinois city of Plainfield. The F5 tornado killed 29 people and injured 353.