Friday, January 04, 2008

OMG weather history! While exploring the NOAA National Weather Service Historical Weather Album I found this image:
Twin funnels on Palm Sunday
Image ID: wea00217, NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) Collection Location: Elkhart, Indiana, Photo Date: 1965 April 11, Photographer: Mr. Paul Huffman

Friends, this is significant to me because I was in this storm, along with my family!! I wasn't even 3 years old, but I remember it very clearly! Our house was about 6 miles southwest of this spot (indicated by red arrow), and luckily we escaped injury and severe property damage.

I remember the eerie yellow-green appearance of the sky, because I was in charge of "helping" daddy keep watch for the funnel(s). Suddenly he told us all to get down to the basement as he went around opening windows (something about windows breaking from the air pressure difference, I don't think they even tell you to do that any more). So my primary concern heading downstairs was the cat and her new kittens. She raced past me with one in her mouth, but left the other one upstairs. It was getting really windy and loud, and I remember my ears popping. Dad came downstairs, and I started bawling about the other kitten, so he went back up and got it. Then I remember him watching out the small basement window, and my older sister asking to see. (She was 11). So he lifted her to see, but she just wanted right back down and ran to mom. Not to be outdone, I bawled until he lifted me too...what a scary sight! I remember crying big time, then we all crouched down under an old desk in the corner of the basement. The house shook, the noise was incredible, and you couldn't hear a thing over the din. Then nothing. Mom made dad wait longer than he wanted to, then he went up to make sure the coast was clear. We all came up, and there was debris and branches everywhere! Next we did the stupidest thing-piled in the car to drive around and see if our neighbors needed help. This may not sound wrong, but on Palm Sunday 1965 in northern Indiana (as well as Ohio and Michigan) there were 47 tornadoes that killed 271 people, and many were injured looking at damage from one storm as another formed and caught them unaware. We were lucky in that respect, and none of our neighbors were seriously injured, but a dairy farm got wiped out (except for a silo), and there were dead cows everywhere...even up in trees! I'm still amazed at how much I remember from such a young age, but then again the memories resurfaced frequently in nightmares for many years, so it would be hard to forget! What a "blast from the past" for my Friday!


mmw said...

Cool! I mean scary, but cool that you found the picture, and that you can remember all that.

Here in Cali, everyone's shitting their pants because of a few inches of rain and and the occasional 60 MPH gust. It's quite comical.

lisa said...

Yea, I guess you folks get a break with weather most of the time, but the earthquakes make up for it (not to mention high cost of living, lots of people, and that whole "falling into the ocean" business.) Ah well, everybody has a cross to bear, right?

Katie said...

Wow! You can remember a lot for being so young. I was watching Storm Chasers last night and they went through a town that was destroyed and the thing that was so eerie to me was all the dead animals lying about. Shiver.

Katie at GardenPunks

vonne said...

Yes! I remeber this! We were living in Ohio and I was 9, I guess. Anyway, I remeber that we went to Indiana the next wkend because my aunt and uncle's roof got damaged and daddy went up to help my uncle repair it.
I remember all the fallen trees -like dominoes - along the hwy on the way up.
I can see how you would still remember that, even from such a young age.
My sister and I rode out a tornado in Florence KY. when I was 6 and she was 12. We were home alone, and temporarily living in a small mobile home in a trailor park while in the process of buying a home in OH. I guess it would have been 1962. Like idiots we stood in front of a big window that went across the end of the trailor and watched the tornado! I remember the trailor shaking and my sister reaching out and catching a vase of b-day flowers that was sitting on the tv, right as it slid off!
I remember that day vividly, colors, sounds smells. Mostly, I remember the quiet after the storm.
There was trailers uprooted all around us and we never got one bit of damage to our trailer, other than mud and debris. Mother said that when she and daddy drove into the park and saw the damage, she just knew we were dead. We were lucky.
Thanks for the link to the '65 tornado, I'll send it to my mom and sis.
Btw, I'm not one bit afraid of storms and have been known to go out in raging electical storms to try and get pics of lightening strikes... How about you? :)

chuck b. said...

Yikes, twin twisters! Because one isn't scary enough. What a great story and that picture, with the power lines right down the center! I've always been fascinated by tornadoes. I think it would be hard to resist the urge to watch it come. It was nice of your dad to go rescue the kitten!

lisa said...

Katie-I'm awestruck by the power of violent weather in general, but tornadoes the most. They are just so completely unpredictable, and the crazy things flying debris can do is amazing. I had a science textbook in grade school that had a picture of a blade of straw driven into/transecting a telephone pole, and that NOAA site had a picture of a vinyl record album embedded into a utility pole. I mean, imagine the pole is your head instead...yikes!

Vonne-Wow, the minute you mentioned "trailer park", I feared the worst! Super lucky indeed! And I will admit that my curiosity gets the best of me in bad weather often, fear and all!

Chuck-My dad was a softie for kids and animals, even though he tried to come across gruff a lot of the time. My folks could have easily been characters on Little House on the Prairie, with all their agricultural/survivor knowledge and hard working, matter-of-fact attitudes. I still want to marry Charles Ingalls. (Not necessarily Michael Landon, although he was a very sweet and attractive man.) I'm just so impressed with guys who can build/fix/grow things...but they have to have that Charles Ingalls warmth and strength of character. Yea...all that crap. ;-)

vonne said...

Oh yeah, nice shots, Lisa!! It's really hard to catch the rotation in still shots...good job!
Yeah, doesn't it seem that tornados just gravitate to trailer parks? We were very lucky. We had a tornado go thru here shortly after we bought this house, and the previous owners had left one of those little metal sheds, we parked our bicycles and our bbq grill in there, but otherwise it was empty...the tornado picked up the shed and blew it 3 miles down the road and wrapped it around a tree, but left the bikes and the grill sitting upright, like nothing had happened!! It was wild!
Btw, I AM married to 'Charles Ingals' and he's got 5 brothers, but none of them are like him! Guess they broke the mold after he was born. heh

jim/ArtofGardening said...

Those are really twisted sisters!

This made me think about the day our daughter was born. It was a low-pressure day that a mini tornado actually started up and did some damage to a strip mall in one of the nearby suburbs. Tornados are extremely rare in our parts (Buffalo, NY).

Because of the low pressure or change in pressure that day, the maternity room was filling up with moms ready to burst.

Has anyone ever heard of such a thing? The nurses all said it happens all the time.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

What a traumatic experience for little 3 year old you, no wonder you still remember it so vividly. Cool story though, and I'm glad you were all save and sound.

I'm glad we don't have twisters over here, dead cows in trees is sooooo not me. ;-)

Annie in Austin said...

What a story, Lisa! That was back when The Wizard of Oz was a big event each year - wonder what it was like for little kids who'd been in real storms to see that fictional twister?

For me Elkhart Indiana is the town where our station wagon was towed after the rear axle suddenly fell off while we were traveling at 70 MPH. My parents and we 5 kids were on our way to Henry Ford Museum... just the name Elkhart brings back how terrifying it was.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

lisa said...

Vonne-Yea, gotta keep those "good boys" close when you can, for sure!

Jim-I'd not heard of this, but they say that the moon affects us too, so why not? I mean, I hated working xray on ANY full moon night!

Yolanda-Glad to hear that tornadoes aren't a regular occurance over there. I thought I'd heard somewhere that they have occurred on every continent except for Antarctica, but I could be full of it :) (It's been known to happen.)

Annie-I remember being VERY afraid of many parts of the Wizard of Oz: the storm, the witch, and of course the flying monkeys! I wasn't real keen on the little people at first, either...I thought the witch may have sent them. Amazing you mention a car accident in Elkhart...I could point to that twister photo and show the EXACT spot of an accident I was in with my high school sweetheart! Some sort of automotive Bermuda Triangle in Elkhart, Indiana!

Entangled said...

That's quite a story! I've been within a few miles of where tornadoes have touched down and I don't think I'd like to be any closer. I remember that particular tornado outbreak because one struck Crystal Lake, Illinois that same day.

lisa said...

Leaves a more-than-just-movies impression from close up, for sure. Funny, but I actually have a couple other memories from being quite young: I recall fighting with a young couisin for a baby bottle while trapt/banished in a playpen at a family reunion (though I'm pretty sure we were both "too old" for a bottle said grandma). The other thing was my mom making me "sit down on the seat" in the car, rather than stand while riding like many, many kids did. I was upset because when seated, I couldn't see a thing but the tops of the trees. (Lucky I survived, eh? ;-)

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Wow. This was before my time, but I remember hearing about the Palm Sunday tornadoes... and I can't imagine seeing dead cows up in trees. How surreal!

I rode out a tornado in an apartment in Dayton, and that was the most scared I've probably ever been. I had no access to the basement, I was in the apartment alone that summer because I was co-oping, and I called my Mom to ask whether I should lodge myself in the bathtub at the rear of the house or tuck myself in under the stairs in the middle of the house. I ended up dragging a desk under the stairs and padding it and myself with couch cushions and such. I kept the cordless phone on, talking to my Mom the whole time (because there was no lightning) to calm my nerves.

lisa said...

Wow Kim, that's scary! I'd hate to ride out a storm alone, but it can't be helped sometimes. They sure are cooler on TV, eh?!

Kylee said...

I remember that Palm Sunday. I was seven and a half and my grandparents were at our house and I remember my grandpa making a comment about the "floating pansies" by the patio. It rained a LOT. No damage to our property, but lots of it around the area.

lisa said...

I was surprised when researching and found this link as to how widespread this enormous storm system was...crazy weather on such a religious day, and I just can't imagine what THAT meant.