Apr 29, 2010


Day 180

It is well documented that I have a love/hate relationship with tornadoes. On one hand I am absolutely enthralled by them. How can something so destructive be so hypnotic and almost beautiful? To me they are one of the most fascinating things of nature and I would love to see one live on a tornado tour. I would love to study them.

But on the other hand I am deathly afraid of them. Seriously. I cannot see pictures or videos of them when I am alone. I dream of them often (at least I know how to deal with them) and even talking about them by myself at the computer is freaking me out a little. I really think I have a deep-seeded primal fear of them.

But yet they are so neat.

I don't think I would have such a fear/fascination with them if I didn't experience them firsthand. When I lived in Edmonton years ago, Edmonton was struck by killer tornadoes and not that far off from my home. And I remember that day like it happened only a few years ago. On July 31, 1987 (known as Black Friday) Edmonton was hit by a series of tornadoes which claimed 27 lives and injured more than 300. It happened right in the middle of the afternoon around 3:30.

For the last couple of nights we were treated to these amazing and large lightning storms. I remember I would sit in my sister's room and look out the window and watch the lightning travel all throughout the clouds lighting the sky in the night. We didn't suspect a thing.

The next day my mom and I went out shopping. We went and got my haircut and we stopped at the local comic store to pick up some new books. In fact, I remember exactly what I got.

It all comes down to comic books for me right? But this was one of the issues I picked up before the tornado hit.

During my haircut a huge rainstorm hit and dumped a ton of water and it became intensely stormy. We headed home and it was really coming down. My sister was at work and my dad was out at work too. So my mom asked me if I wanted to come with her to her job or stay home. I didn't want to go out in the weather but I didn't want to be home alone and just then my dad came home. I was so glad to see him. So my mom went off to work and I stayed home with my dad. I went downstairs to play some hockey and read my new comics and we saw that our basement had water coming into it. So my dad mopped it up and we decided to go upstairs and turn on the TV to see what the weather was doing.

We turned on the TV and we saw this large tornado on the screen. My dad and I looked at each other in awe and my dad wondered aloud "I wonder where that is?" Then the newscaster said it was a tornado in Leduc. I turned to my dad with my eyes probably bugging out of my head. Leduc was a city just south of Edmonton. Then the newscaster told everyone that Edmonton was under a tornado warning.

I jumped from my chair and I grabbed my hamster and my sister's rabbit and headed downstairs in a flash. I ran back upstairs and grabbed my comics. If I was going to be stuck downstairs I might as well have something to do. My dad stayed upstairs and eventually came downstairs to finish cleaning up the rain water. Luckily the rain had stopped but the wind had really picked up. Dad then told me that he was going to go outside to check things out. I didn't want him too but I ventured upstairs with him. I watched my dad look around at the sky from my sister's bedroom window. I didn't like watching so I went into my bedroom and got my stereo boom box so I could take that downstairs with me. As I was fidgeting with the power cord (it was stuck between the wall and my desk) my dad came rushing into the house yelling.


This book contains all the information and a ton of picture of the Edmonton tornado. I rarely crack open that book to look at the pictures.

I yanked my stereo cord away from the wall (dumping my whole art desk down) and pushed past my dad and leaped down the stairs and hid under the stairs FREAKING out! Dad did not follow me down. I didn't even hear him coming down the stairs and I started to panic. I yelled for my dad and he didn't come down the stairs. So I grasped my knees and waited for "it" to come.

Finally my dad came down the stairs nonchalantly, like he was out on a stroll. I yelled for my dad telling him to take cover. And my dad calmly says to me: "Do you hear it? It is raining again." I was confused; I thought the tornado was coming. But my dad meant that the rain was coming again. If I wasn't so paralyzed in fear I would have killed him.

The storm began to weaken and we ventured upstairs again to watch the news. I called my mom at work and told her about the tornado and she thought I was only kidding until some guy came in and told her the same thing. She closed down the office and came home. My mom recounted her harrowing trip to her job. She said it got pitch black and she saw things twirl around in the air around her car and the car ahead of her. She felt the car rock with the wind and suddenly it left as quickly as it came. We think she drove through the tornado or the remnants of the tornado. We traced her path and it put her right in the path of the tornado. I am so glad that I didn't go with her. I would have died!

That night we watched the news and we went out to the movies. Jennifer and mom saw Dragnet and my dad and I saw the new Bond movie, The Living Daylights.

I will never forget that day. The next day we went and toured the areas of damage and it was so amazing that the wind could be so powerful and we were lucky that the tornado didn't strike closer to our home.


  1. Great post... your account was funny!

  2. on that fateful day i was in the top floor of the Edmonton Sun building and i watched the entire tornado come up the east side of the city until it was right behind the Sun building. only a Sun photographer, who took all the photos in the book cover you showed, and myself saw this. we were in the top floor of the building. everyone else went to the underground parking, except of course us two idiots. it was literally across the street. my memories are still vivid of that event. i was so impacted by what i saw i couldn't buy the booklet they sold with all the photos. of course, years later i would love to get a copy as i expect it has many photos that the Sun photographer took that day. we never talked, and i never knew his name, although we stood side-by-side witnessing one of the most amazing events in my life. anyways, a little insight. if you're willing to share some of the photos i would appreciate it.

  3. Buck:

    Thank you for sharing this. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to witness it firsthand. I would be happy to scan the pictures from the book for you. Send me an e-mail to mplatis28(at)hotmail.com and I spend some time in scanning it.

  4. My family and I were setting up for my sister's wedding when it had hit. My dad was blowing up a balloon and he wanted to see how big he could make it. It was HUGE!!!! He tied it off, put it on a table, it fell off, POPPED, and the power went out. When the power had returned, 630 CHED (yes, I remember the station we were listening to!) had announced that a tornado had touched down!!!! o_O

    We were actually west of the city, closer to Spruce Grove, out on Sand Hills Road at the community hall.

    Freaky stuff.

    I too, have a wicked fascination with tornadoes now. I have witnessed, first hand, the tornado that hit Red Deer on July 4, 2009. My hubby and I were driving back home to Lethbridge when I looked in the driver's side mirror and saw it! I FREAKED out! Told hubby to look behind us. Pulled over, and hit the On-Star Emergency button in the car and advised as to what was going on. I have also driven through a tornado. That was freaky too. But..... I LOVE to chase them.

    Thanks for sharing your story Buck!