People love to talk about the weather. If you are talking to someone with which you have nothing in common, there is always the weather. People are especially fascinated by special events, such as storms.
Our Minnesota Story Book would be wanting without a storm story.The one we hear today features a tornado that was named after a mall that it almost destroyed; it was also a very up close and personal experience for me and my family.
Severe weather is often referred to as having a recipe. In order to cook up a tornado, we have to begin with the finest ingredients.
Take a warm, juicy afternoon, so sticky in made you feel as if you were wearing a sopping wet wool sweater. Mix in a mass of cool dry Canadian air along witht a hot, moist flow from the Gulf of Mexico and you have a the makings of a good storm.
We pick up the story mid afternoon, June 14, 1981.
3:00 PM, during a Sunday house cleaning event, an authoritative voice in the radio advised that conditions were ripe for an outbreak of severe weather and possibly, tornadoes. I shrugged. Nothing out of the ordinary for a hot humid June day. I continued doing the dishes which because of the party last evening overflowed the sink.
3:45 PM, sirens streaked across the sky like banshees and the radio waves blossomed into a controlled panic. A tornado was on the ground in Edina and was traversing Lake Harriet. Whoa ! Time to turn on the TV meteorologists.
¨Seek shelter immediately!” the box warned. Yes indeed a funnel was rapidly moving from the SouthWest to the NorthEast across the urban landscape. I recalled my fatherś tale that the worst tornadoes come from the southwest. Further dispatches put the beast at Bloomington and Lake St. Two miles away! It appeared to be moving in my direction so I did what anybody would do; I dashed out to the back deck of my apartment building to look for it.
My neighbors had heard the warning and joined me on the deck. “Tornadoes never strike the cities” we chuckled. The sirens continued blaring as we scanned the sky like Ahab looking for the white whale. From the top edge of my vision I detected movement. “What’s that ?” I said pointing to chunks of two by fours, sheets of plywood and roofing shingles swirling almost directly overhead. It couldn’t be a tornado, it was a clear of color, no dark ominous funnel cloud, no rumbling freight train sound.
It looked harmless, lazily spinning, I could imagine riding along inside it as it drifted off toward the Mississippi River
As it reached the banks of the river, I saw branches and leaves whipped about the treetops as the funnel dropped from the clouds again.
[ the wind began to swithc the house to pitch ]
4:00 PM I raced back to my TV to gather more details. The spinning column of air and debris, sailed over KSTP TV station, then St. Anthony Park where falling debris clobbered roof tops, then it cut a line across a dusty farm field headed for Har Mar Mall. Now uncloaked, it revealed itself as a dark funnel shaped twister.
Rising in strength as it hit the ground, the twister ripped the roof off an electronics store and the the front part of the Target on Snelling and County Road B. My grandmother, living in the Golden Age Nursing Home a short block away, had no time to take cover, but except for some trees stripped bare of their leaves her building was unscathed.
Central Park in Roseville was now the bull’s eye.
[ withc riding broom music ]
4:15 PM My mother was just pulling into her driveway on the sw corner of the park and saw the swirling dark cloud less than a block away and closing in. As she ducked into the house she saw birds being sucked ...