Saturday, May 07, 2005

May 6th 1975

I dropped the used-up welding rod and reached for a new one. My seventy year old father looked at me and said, "you'd better get home to Marilyn and Juli". The reason was 'the look' of the sky. He said "In all of my seventy years I've never seen the sky look like this, something bad is going to happen".
These were astonishing statements from someone who was not given to the use of hyperbole. He was the master of the understatement. While everyone else would head to the basement in a thunderstorm, he would probably stand and look out the window. He sent me home that afternoon to be with my beautiful young wife and new baby daughter. Dad and I had been trying to plant some newly cleared land north of where I lived. We were using some old equipment, so as to not tear up the good stuff when we hit a stump. I had dinged the old planter and had pulled it down to the shop to weld it back together.
That day looked bad from the time we got up and it got worse by the minute. By 4:30 when I was sent home, it seemed that hundreds of tornadoes could pop up anywhere. The sky was black, a very low ceiling, and they literally boiled for hours.
Knowing Dad as I did, it scared me. I ran to my pick-up and headed home. I tuned the AM radio to KFAB, the 'old reliable' out of Omaha to see if there were any warnings. What I heard while driving the three fourths of a mile to home, was unbelievable, a tornado was on the ground in Omaha, just 45 miles to our south, and it was chasing a reporter that was broadcasting it's every move. It stayed on the ground for 10 miles in Metro Omaha causing the largest property damage of any tornado to that date. It was an F4 in power and the amazing thing was that with the hundreds of homes completely destroyed, and the over four thousand buildings sustaining substantial damage, only three people died.
I sat in the driveway at my house, my foot hanging out of the door, the radio on, and I listened. Marilyn came to the door with Juli in her arms and yelled to me, "looks bad". Yes it did.
Note: Also worth researching, was Grand Island Nebraska's night of terror, June 3rd 1980. Seven tornadoes were down in the city, and rotating.
These two rank, or did rank in the top ten in history, measured by property damage.

2 comments:

Ralph's Homespun Headlines said...

Cliff
It's things like that you never forget. You live in a part of the world that even when I am traveling through I keep one eye on the sky. A good example is that little storm we encountered the night before Dan's wedding. I had never been in anything like that. Nice post.
Ralph

Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) said...

Like Ralph said, you never forget. I'm live in an area most don't know has tornadoes hit, usually mild, but we've had some doozies embedded on my brain forever. Amazing when hardly anyone is hurt.