Tornado Time

Captain’s Log   6,024

It was May 5, 1964 (not 1963 as I thought earlier today).  At 7:05 PM, a tornado now classified as level F3 roared through the north side of my hometown.  The thundering roar was mistaken for the Illinois Central train that always blasted through town about that time.  All I really remember was seeing a tornado that was wide and approaching rapidly.  This storm came quickly and without warning.  It was upon us in seconds.


Not the actual tornado of 1964 but an image that gives you the perspective of flat Iowa land being over-run by a monstrous storm.

On May 6, 1965, a series of killer tornadoes (probably all classified as F4)  hit the Twin Cities.  Big Sister Mia was newly married and living there at the time.  Right near the Mississippi River – and directly in the path of destruction.  She spent the night in a ground floor apartment with her neighbors as twister after twister roared down on their community.  She said they watched semi trailers being tossed like toys down the freeway.  The destruction was incredible.


Not sure if the family survived this or not.

fridley damage 2

Senator Hubert Humphrey and his wife survey the damage several days later.

Needless to say, I was completely terrified by black skies and impending storms for years.  On more than one occasion, when Mia and I went to Iowa to visit our mother for her birthday, we had to deal with tornado warnings, funnel cloud sightings, and massive rain storms.  One night we were trying to drive back to our hotel and the lightning flashes clearly illuminated the funnel clouds hanging low and ready to touch down.  It was harrowing.

One day while swimming at the community pool, I glanced out across the prairie to see something like this.

white tornado

Odd level F1 storms that pop out of the clouds and rip up a fence or two or tear some shingles off the house.  They are not as deadly as the big storms, but they are also impressive to watch.

So every May I am reminded of what it was like to live in Tornado Alley in the spring.  I remember the Civil Defense sirens jarring us awake in the middle of the night.  The night before Mia moved to San Diego (in the spring of 1984), we had gone to a band concert at the high school to hear my niece play.  About 10 minutes into the concert, the sirens went off and we were herded into the locker rooms near the gym to spend several hours waiting out the storm (which only knocked out power across the Twin Cities but didn’t really cause much damage).

There are challenges no matter where you live.  The Midwest has tornadoes and blizzards (and floods).  San Diego has wildfires and earthquakes.  No place is perfect.  But, in all honesty, I must say I am glad to be away from tornadoes.  Really glad.


Filed under Captain Poolie's observations

26 responses to “Tornado Time

  1. You and G are having fun.
    Yes’m, your tickets have been printed.

  2. farmgirl

    I SO remember that. And tomorrow is my son’s birthday. He is 40. And 40 years ago that day a huge tornado destroyed a great deal of western Omaha, where he was born. It hit half and hour after he was born! thank goodness missed our hospital but all the staff were on triage alert as we all listened to a reporter follow the storm. It was hard because some of the people knew their loved ones were in the path and all they could do was stay on alert for their jobs and pray that all at home were safe.

  3. joan

    She is impressive Mother Nature- I have been in numerous earth (mostly in bed) but never a tornado

  4. goatbarnwitch

    There are so many ways nature reminds us of how small we are in comparison. The weird thing for me right now is that something that wouldn’t normally be an issue is which puts a fine point on climate change for sure

  5. I got married and spent my wedding night in the area where the Palm Sunday tornadoes hit in 1965… Luckily we got up very early and headed for Canada before the tornadoes hit right where we had been staying…..

  6. Joanie Benson

    No wonder you moved to California!

  7. George

    Well, if you want to see Petco Park, you need to buy a ticket. Pick a day and we can car pool and enjoy a baseball game. Usually we do day games on Sundays.


  8. I was the same way. We lived in Evansdale Iowa – when I was 4 I remember driving to a neighboring trailer park right after a tornado hit. One of my mother’s friends was pinned beneath her trailer. A few years later there were tornadoes that basically decimated the entire quadrant of the state, one striking so fast it decapitated a man sitting in his lawn chair – he didn’t have the chance to get to safety. Scary, scary stuff.

  9. Patty O"

    Mother Nature can be a bitch. I will definitely stick with California; at least you cannot SEE an earthquake coming. Although…I did watch the special David Letterman retrospective last night and there was a quote from Johnny Carson when asked about one of our torrential and damaging rain storms. Johnny said,. “At least the mudslides put out the wildfires!

  10. bholles

    I am so scared of tornadoes. That was the worst night of my life.

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