This page offers stories submitted by tornado and hail storm survivors. These accounts have not been verified. If you survived a tornado or know someone who did, share your story and help save lives. PleaseContact Us.PLEASE note that we have permission to print your story online and let us know the town and state and the month and year of the event.
Adam Taylor, Cleveland TN, April 12 (Easter), 2020
I grew up both a little frightened and excited by storms and tornadoes. My mamaw and great grandmother were both horrified of storms, probably an undiagnosed case of lilapsophobia or astraphobia. For me, the sound of the nuclear plant sirens being used as tornado sirens was the scariest. Anyway, I began to study and learn as much about severe weather as I could. In the 8th grade, a tornado hit our small town and killed one man. I sat by a wall in my classroom that was mostly glass windows and there was some communication between classrooms that our county was under warning, but we never went into the hallway. I actually stopped the lesson and told the teacher that the sky was turning an ugly, almost evil, green color. My teacher said, "class, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore." It touched down less than a mile from us.
April 27, 2011 was a sad and horrific day for the southeast. I worked at a hardware store and although we weren't directly hit, 2 inch PVC pipe was sucked from outdoor racks and shot 14 inches into a neighboring yard. Later that night, I found mail in my yard from Cullman, Alabama. I also found coloring assignments from an elementary school somewhere I didn’t recognize.
I prayed that night he and my neighbor Mrs. Brooks were safe. I say these names because it’s forever etched in my mind. My mother and aunt saw insulation and siding scattered in our yard. We remember 2x4s flying high up in the sky like helicopter propellers. We were blessed and spared that day.
Fast forward almost 9 years, I was visiting a friend's house for an Easter cookout. I was well aware of threat of the storms going into the night. Around 10:45 am, my neighbor of few words sent a text that read "hey, bubba-tree on your bedroom. I have a saw if you need it. It’s in your carport." Apparently, a non-severe storm hit the area and a medium sized tree hit my house.
Frustrated, I jumped in my car and headed home. It was odd because with the rain, I figured the atmosphere had stabilized some. Anyway, I pulled in and it was lightly raining. My neighbor, wearing a pink bathrobe, nodded towards the carport, in a manner that said "it's right there", I waved and said “thanks” and that I'd return it in the morning. He nonchalantly raised his beer and nodded. I unlocked the door,grabbed a hoodie and turned the lights on and went to assess the damage with the saw in hand.
It was roughly 11:30 am as I got to the tree I realized my pink robe sporting neighbor had put his ladder up for me right where I needed it. So I primed and fired up the saw and went halfway up the ladder to get the heaviest part off the roof. The rain had picked up and I began cutting, my mind thinking about how to cover the roof. I had forgotten the weather. As I argued in my mind, almost in a trance,about the quickest and easiest way to get this done, it was like someone snapped their fingers in my face. It was like I woke up and realized it was deadly still. No rain, no breeze, just the saw rumbling and vibrating my hand.
Out of the corner of my eye I see my pink robe sporting hero, and I do mean hero,waving both hands,one of which still clung to a beer. I cut the saw off and looked at him as he began pointing off towards the west. It was then that heard the rumble of the notorious freight train. I saw power flashes and knew it was coming. I dropped the saw,which stuck straight up in the ground, and gracefully slid down the ladder, which I am a grizzly bear of a man at 285 lbs with the height (5'7") and heart of a teddy bear. So graceful wasn't typically used to describe me. I grabbed his saw and noticed, like a ghost,he was gone inside.
I rounded the carport and flung open the door and just like I would any other day, kinda flung it behind my back to close it with three fingers, only to have it meet the wind and come back on me. I slammed it shut as the power went out. My living room looked eerie as I could see flashes of lightening as well as power flashes. I jumped into a 1/2 bath that was right inside the door and slammed the door and laid down and covered my head and prayed for forgiveness and for my family.
My mind was racing with a million thoughts, regrets, prayers, etc., but I still noticed the pressure change and could feel air from under the door as it blew in towards me, then sucked back out of the room. I heard things slamming my house, then the sheetrock overhead fell down and it sounded like my roof lifted and came back down. I heard the sound of nails being pulled out of wood, glass breaking, and then the scariest sound I've ever heard, and pray that I never hear again. It was a groan. A moaning. And I can only describe it as evil. It caused me to shake head to toe, and that shaking continued on from April 12 until the day I met my girlfriend in early August.
I suddenly felt something hit my head and everything was peaceful. I opened my eyes and moved part of the ceiling truss that had concussed me. I felt warmth on my wet head coming from a small cut. I was confused and very thirsty. I walked into the kitchen,kicking debris out of the way, and got an undisturbed glass from my counter and chugged a full glass of water. It came back to me slowly as I stared into the darkness of my living room, where I could see the moon peeking through the clouds through the holes in my ceiling, and even then it felt unreal.
I went outside to see my car, completely and thickly covered in mud and grass, only on one side. I got blinded by a light as i exited the carport. It "the robe man", coming to check on me. I asked if he and his wife, or "ole lady" as he called her,were ok. He shook his head yes while giving me the ok symbol with his right hand, and a coffee mug,with instant coffee inside, had replaced his beer in his left hand. I stood there and tears poured down my face,not from the dislocated shoulder or pounding headache from the concussion, but from the thankfulness I felt for him for the saw and for standing outside to warn me.
He opened his arms and I hugged that man so hard he tapped my shoulder because I was squeezing him. We were blessed that day because aside from a few injuries, no fatalities were reported from my town. As for my shaking, it continued, along with occasional nightmares, until that following August until my I met my girlfriend. She noticed the shaking and understood why it was happening. But like a miracle, she took it away from me. Now the only time I shake is because I still get butterflies everytime I see her come through the door. Be safe folks. Be weather aware. And never judge a man in a pink bathrobe.
Early on the morning of March 3, 2020 a E-F4 tornado hit the Cookeville, Baxter, Tennessee area where we live. I heard the siren go off and grabbed my kids and we took shelter in the laundry hallway. The tornado was in our back yard! The tornado picked us up with the hardwood floor and landed us 250 feet across the street! We lost everything! I could feel my guardian Angel right behind us hovering over us to protect us. We were hollaring out to God for help & he helped us! We had minimum injuries. The scariest night of my life. We’re still trying to figure things out. Our lives have been forever changed since that early morning tornado
Braedyn Griffin, Lincoln, NE
I was about 6 or 7 years old, living in Lincoln, NE, and ready to end the school year. Coming home from school one day, I saw a dark blue to gray cloud coming towards my house. It was weird because as a little kid I probably wouldn't know what a supercell was.
I saw my mom's car and then heard her yell my name. It scared me because she was so loud and said to get in the car now. I didn't know what was happening so I ran to the car and got in. She immediately started the car and told me to buckle up. So I did and she backed out.
That is when I looked back at the cloud and it terrified me. The cloud had a small funnel looking cloud inside of it. My mom said to keep my eyes ahead. We eventually got to the house and then we heard a loud siren. She said to get inside thehouse now and get downstairs. My dad looked scared. He brought the radio and a flashlight, while my mom got some batteries and snacks. Once we all got downstairs, we heard really loud banging on the roof.
My dad said that it was hail, and my mom was trying to keep me and my sisters calm. Then after a few minutes it got quiet, so we turned on the radio and heard that an EF-2 tornado touched down just east of Sheridan Elementary (my school), ripping a chunk of the school off. I was really sad and near bawling, and then I heard a massive loud rumble that began to shake the house. Then the lights went out. My dad turned on the flashlight and the rumble began to slow. We listened to the radio and heard that something was dissipating. I could not understand what it was saying but I assumed it meant tornado. This was the scariest moment of my life and I hope nothing like this happens ever again.
Chris Tuveng, Dallas, Texas, 2019
Last year several Tornados swept through the area the night of 10/20/2019. I unfortunately got “sucked” into one of them.The most severe Tornado was an EF3 that was on the ground for 30 minutes and 15 miles. When I say involved I was literally standing in the Tornado. Seemed like an eternity.
I had gone to the local Little Caesar Pizza place at the halftime of the Dallas Cowboy Philadelphia Eagle game tp get a pizza for the game. When I got to the Little Caesars they had run out of pizzas. So I had to wait. While I was waiting the Tornado hit the shopping Center and sucked me out of the building. I was literally standing inside the Tornado. I found a support column to hold on to at first. Then it spun me off the column and onto a truck that was parked in front of the Little Caesars. I tried holding on to the hood of the truck but there was nothing to hold on to. I ended up on the ground holding on to the rim of the left front tire until it stopped. It was dead still and all the lights were off because power had been knocked out. People were screaming and cars alarms were going off all over the place. It was like a war zone.
The Tornado was an EF3 with sustained winds of 140 mph and it was 1300 yards wide at its base. That is 13 football fields wide. Words cannot describe what it felt like. Beyond horrifying. I am lucky to be alive for sure. I don’t think you will meet many people in your life who have survived something like this. Someone was definitely watching out for me. My back, head, and lower legs were hit the hardest. I have debris (rocks, mud, glass) in there to this day. Most of it is out but not all.
Rockett, Brookville, OH, June 2019
Terry and I were watching a reported tornado path north of us that was traveling east of Greenville across Miami County. As it left Laura and was heading east toward West Milton we were on the phone with my wife’s sister who lives on Rangeline Road two miles south of the radar indicated path. My wife’s sister and husband got in their inside hallway and rode out the storm as we were describing its location while monitoring the radar on WHIO on TV. After it moved by, we hung up and they were in good shape and safe with little impact to them. That storm was rated and EF-2. (Subsequently to this event, and after our own event described below, there was another tornado (EF-0) that passed 3 miles south of their home for a few miles.)
At that time, 10:40 pm approx., the on air meteorologist changed views to show the storm that was spinning up a rotation signature over Brookville, Ohio. This now is our storm. We watched, and it was obvious to me that the rotation on the storm was very strong and I mentioned that to Terry about a half minute before WHIO said the exact same thing. As they cycled through the storm, I noticed that the rotation was heading due east from Brookville and there was a debris ball associated with the rotation signature. Again this was verified by WHIO on the air seconds after I mentioned it to Terry in my narrative of what we were looking at.
Around this time (10:50 pm approx..) the debris ball and circulation signature was clearly heading due east on Westbrook Road and was about 3 miles west of our house in the Air Hill Road area. Terry and I looked at each other and she asked whether we need to take shelter. I agreed and since we were downstairs in our lower level anyway we got in our downstairs ½ bath and kept the door open so we could at least track status on the TV. We heard the winds increasing at this point and sounds of sporadic hail hitting the house and roof. The hail was not heavy or especially large. At that point the TV went out and the lights started flashing on and off and on and off. We closed the door.
The lights then went out for good, but we did have a flashlight with us and I flicked it on. We heard the winds increasing and gusting heavily in a slightly pulsing ebb and flow. There was vivid and continuous lightning, the sounds of the winds increased quite a bit, and we heard thumping on the back decks, the north side of the house, and big thumps in the front and above us. We could sense the winds inside the bathroom with noticeable pressure waves that matched the gusts and there was a noticeable breeze from the door as the pressure equalized between the house and the outside through the exhaust vent in the ½ bath. I felt pressure difference in my ears, heard the toilet gurgle, and we both noticed the pressure difference as waves of pressure variation washed through the house and us. The bathroom door was shaking as if someone wanted to get inside throughout all this. Also during the event we both heard the continuous background noise of the winds that was steady and slowly passing from west to east as if a farmer had his heavy and loud tractor plowing the fields to our south. If we were a bit closer I’m sure it would have been the classic “freight train” experience.
After a minute or so, the winds settled down and the door shopped shaking. The pressure waves left and we were ok. We had been hugging through the entire event and Terry asked if it was over. I said I thought it was safe now. She asked about damage and I told her that I didn’t hear any glass breaking, or movement upstairs which was a good thing. She asked if we had a roof, and I honestly told her I didn’t know. We opened the bathroom door and everything was deathly quiet except for a constant moan, or even a groan, which was the tornado circulation as it continued to head east. Very disturbing, especially with continuous lightning but NO thunder. Using my cell phone, I called in the details to NWS Wilmington at 11:10 pm with the impact of the tornado at my location being 10:58 (approx.). Reception was cutting in and out as cell towers were apparently being disabled, with calls being picked up on other towers by the tornado while we talked. It was very upsetting to Terry and I don’t mind telling you that I was very upset and worried as well. I hadn’t felt this effected in a very long time. My storm chasing bug is gone, John. After all, the storm chased me!!
After we composed ourselves and kissed, thanking God we were alive, we got off the floor and started our survey. I found her a flashlight, and scoped the inside of the house. Untouched and no water damage or cracks to the outside. Then I peeked out the deck door and saw nothing but leaves. Same with the front door when I opened it. Leaves and branches. There was no rain, no wind, but still continuous lightning to the east, peppered with blue and green flashes as power lines, transformers, and power substations were damaged and put off line. I put on my rubber knee boots and we both went outside to check on external damage.
We lost several big (12” diameter) silver maple limbs that were now blocking our driveway. Another had hit our roof, damaged our gutter and soffit and cartwheeled over the roof to the back yard. Numerous other branches were on our deck and littering our yard. Our ornamental pear was shattered and shredded, laying in our back yard. The limbs and pear tree were oriented from north to south, towards the EF03 damage that was in a track along Westbrook Road – ¼ mile to our south. Most of the tree damage in the neighborhood had the same orientation. Also the north side of our house was sand blasted with shredded leaves and debris, but the other sides of the house were clean.
The deck furniture was shoved into our house and a few chairs found the neighbor’s yard to the south. Each piece was very heavy and anchored together, but he winds managed to move them very easily. Similarly, our furniture on the upper deck ended up shoved together in a pile against the south railing. I had covered the outside furniture and anchored them together as I normally do when there is a threat of rain or storms to protect them.
Again, as we did our inspection tour the sky was continuous lightning but no thunder to the east. We later found out that another tornado had formed over Englewood to our north and east and moved southeast, as our tornado continued on east to cross I-75 and north Dayton and into Riverside.
We chatted with the neighbors, made sure we were all safe and ok, and listened to the emergency sirens for an hour and a half as we all checked out our homes. No rain, no winds, just a deep calm and quiet. With diminishing lightning to the east.
The assessor came out today (Saturday) to check out the property. Storm damage resulted in a roof tear off and re-shingled, one 40’ silver maple and a 25’ pear tree removal including stump grinding, top and trim two additional silver maples, and new gutters and soffits on the front of the house. The assessor thinks we need to tear off and replace our siding, but we have the option to have a building inspector validate his findings. Visually the siding looks fine with a few dents, but with no loose sections or panels, I would just as soon keep what we have had for 40 years.
Trinity, Harrison Township OH
The day began like any other. Raindrops ticked along the glass of the apartment living room window on this warm, stormy day. Much of the day was spent playing "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare" on my father’s Xbox 360. At about 5 pm, I started hearing about a storm system off to the west. I wrapped up the game for the night when my sister’s friend informed us of a tornado warning. Seconds later, sirens sounded. I headed to the bathroom and watched the blood red cell on radar as lights went out and cellular reception was lost. My sister told me to move to the hallway with everyone else. The sky was lit with ominous furious lightning. I took cover in the hallway as the train sound rumbled outside. The first tornado passed but now the second one was headed our way. The funnel moved over the apartment complex before moving into the night from our location, Route 48 in Harrison Township toward old North Dayton. The EF-4 took two lives, one in Celina and one in Harrison Township.
Staci Howell, Washington IA, 1998
Back in 1998, I just got home from school and the sirens went off. My mom put me under a desk and put a table on top. The tornado jumped over our house and took a few shingles off with it. But it took out the northeast side of town.
Eric Simmons, May 2019, Little Rock, AR
I was out on the back lot, what we call the backing pad, when it began to storm. So I told everybody as usual to take shelter until the lightning stopped. Some people went to their cars; some went inside. It was just a light rain and the lightning was in a distance so I stayed in my pickup truck parked next to a fence with a large tree in front of me and a metal carport to the left of me. Directly behind me, sitting perpendicularly to my pickup truck, was a semi-truck. The rain was light. My truck was running and I had the windshield wipers on. I looked out the driver's side window and noticed it was getting a little windy; some of our camping chairs blew over.
I looked out my right windshield and noticed the vines growing along the fence were starting to blow around kind of funny. A moment later, just like that, all around me was wind and it got real dark. The wind was going in a way that I've never seen before. Then a section of a roof blew over me and just shredded apart mid-air. That's when the back windshield on my pickup truck shattered, throwing glass all over me.
The tree sitting directly in front of me, which was relatively large, blew over like it was nothing. Also part of the fence blew over top of the hood of my pickup. I crouched down real low in the driver's seat and just prayed. I held onto the steering wheel for dear life. I could feel the back of the truck lifting. I could still see out the front windshield and I could see power lines exploding out in front of me. The visibility was really poor at this point but I could still see the flashes. It lasted for about 45 seconds but it seemed like a lifetime.
I remember praying out loud and my hands were shaking. I had my phone in my hand so of course even though I was freaking out and praying to God thinking that I probably wouldn't live I decided to try to video what I could. I could see the semi that was behind me had blown over top of me and landed next to the carport.
I could barely walk. I was in a state of shock, knee-deep in flood water. I walked around more or less like a zombie shaking and trembling, looking at the other two semis that had blown over. There were people running about in every direction. I don't know how long I wandered around. Some of my other instructor colleagues saw me and came up to me and asked me if I was okay. I couldn't even speak. Finally, I managed to phone my wife at work but she can't pick up so I left a voicemail that she still has. I don't think I ever want to hear that because I do remember I was screaming.
I don't know how long it took me to calm down and regain my senses but I finally went back to record a video walkthrough of the damage. Then I went back to my pickup truck which was still running and started to pick up some of the debris and nails so I could drive out of there. I've been through a couple traumatic incidents in my life as a veteran of the Gulf War. This was, hands down, one of those most traumatic and terrifying moments of my life. I think the real reason why I was so terrified because I had no training, no warning, and no defense against whatever was coming. The tornado was classified two days later as an EF-1 tornado. It had a base of about 75 to a hundred yards across.
Cheri, Bryan TX, 2019
On April 24, 2019, I was in my shop at 6964 Coyote Run, Bryan, TX, working on a Volkswagon engine. It had been raining hard most of the afternoon. At approximately 4:30 pm the rain stopped and there was an eerie silence followed by the patter of what sounded like hail on the metal roof of the shop. Then the wind started howling. followed by a large crashing noise on the back wall of the shop. I looked up and saw the 16 ft garage door bowing inward from the wind. I thought, “oh no, I hope it’s not a tornado.” The door breathed back out. I sighed a breath of relief hoping the twister had skipped over the shop. That relief was short lived as in the next few seconds I heard the train sound, which actually sounded like a thrashing machine metal being chewed up, indescribable actually. Then the entire back wall of the shop began to bow in.
All I could think of was get to a low spot. There was none. My next thought was get to an interior hall so I ran to the bathroom, laid down on the floor and grabbed the toilet knowing it was bolted to the ground. In the next 2-5 seconds, I saw the corner of the shop and bathroom lift up and disappear over me. Then I was hit with a force I can’t describe and felt myself being lifted into the air traveling backwards at what seemed like 100 mph. I was being hit from all directions by objects and beams from the building. A thousand thoughts went through my mind and I just knew I was dead. I prayed for God to save me then I was slammed back onto the ground.
I realized I was alive and did not think I was hurt to badly. Then the debris started falling out of the sky. I thought, oh great, I survived being sucked up into the air in a tornado, now I’m gonna be crushed to death! As the debris fell onto me, I fought and pushed and shoved anything that landed on me trying to get whatever landed on me off. Then as fast as it started it was over. No noise. I was bleeding and it felt like my ankle was broken but I was alive. I couldn’t breathe because I was being crushed. I pushed one more time and was able to create enough space to breathe. I hollered for someone to get the building off of me but no one answered.
I wiped the blood from my eyes and saw a 1965 Pontiac Catalina next to me. My first thought was why is that car in the bathroom with me. Then it hit me that I was some 80 ft from where the bathroom once stood and was out in the parking lot in front of the shop. I pushed and clawed my way out of the rubble, shocked angry and thankful to God that I was alive. I survived bruised from head to toe with a broken foot and some lacerations. I went back out to the shop the next day and just cried seeing where I had crawled out from the broken pieces of the toilet under where I laid. Turns out the toilet had just been set on the wax ring and caulked to the floor, not one bolt in the slab. In retrospect, that toilet not being secured is probably what saved me as I think I was traveling with the debris in the twister. not sitting still being struck by the debris field.
Chris, Haltom City, TX, 2007
It ws April 4, 2007, around 6 pm, when my father passed away shortly after a tornado hit Haltom City, TX. I was not with him when the incident took place. On this day storms were everywhere and sirens were going off. That is the normal during spring time in Texas. My father's friend, who owned the property, told me the following story the day after the storm while he was recovering from injuries in the hospital. They were standing outside while sirens were going off looking at the green skies when things got unusually calm and quiet. My father looked up and saw a "hole" in the sky and shouted "RUN!!!!". The friends split up. My father went under a large wooden rack where tons of lumber was stored. His friend hung onto an oak tree and didn't let go. Debris flew all around them severing my fathers ear in half. When that happened, he looked over and saw the shelf was going to collapse on top of my father. He shouted for him to get out from under the lumber and run to the tree but unfortunately the sound of the roaring tornado was too loud for my father to hear hi sfriend. The shelf collapsed with my father under it and the F1 lifted up and was over. After my father got pulled out with the help of everyone that was around, someone performed CPR but there was no saving his life. He had no broken bones and his body was still intact. The medical examiner ruled it cardiac dysrhythmia. My father's friend made it out with cuts and bruises.
Scott, Bartlesville, OK, 1982
Inthe later part of March 1982, I was on spring break and home by myself that whole week. For 3 days before the tornado, it was incredibly windy but sunny out. My dog would just stand in the yard and howl for hours those entire 3 days as well as acting off in other ways. As a side note I had never seen her act like that before or after that time period.
On the evening of that third day, we were eating supper and starting cleanup when the tornado sirens went off. We all were surprised considering it was still sunny out. Mom turned on the radio and sure enough a tornado was on the ground headed our way. Now in Oklahoma when I was a kid, if the sirens went off you went outside first to try and get a look before taking shelter. So we all went out front and encountered multiple neighbors and their children doing the same. It was almost like a block party with all the excitement.
My best friend’s dad was standing on his truck with a pair of binoculars trying to see where it might be. To the west/southwest it was pitch black moving towards us quickly, otherwise the sky was blue everywhere else. Suddenly my friend's dad turned with a look of absolute terror and started screaming "get inside, good God get inside now!" He grabbed his little daughter under his arm and bolted to his house. I will never forget the look on his face and the fear in his voice. I was 7 and knew it must be serious.
We didn't have a basement so we all got in the interior hallway with blankets and pillows on top of me mostly and waited. There was like a brief squall with wind/heavy rain and then it got dead calm. I thought it was over but then my dad said, "Here it comes get ready." Within a few seconds we could hear a low rumble getting progressively louder. It sounded more like a jet engine sound than a train approaching.
As it went through our area the entire house felt and sounded like it was in a wind tunnel/sand blaster. I've never felt a house shake and shudder like that and the sound of dirt, debris, whatever else raking the house was unearthly almost. During the worst of it, my parents who weren't incredibly religious started saying the Lord's prayer and telling each other and me, "I love you no matter what" over and over. To this day I tear up realizing they thought we might not make it that day.
Finally it was over and we stepped outside to survey the scene. Apparently the tornado was skipping thru town rather than taking a continuous path and jumped right over my street but destroyedhouses and businesses just 2-3 blocks in either direction. Our street was littered with paper, siding, tree limbs, etc., but we sustained very minor damage over all. Two streets down though people were not so lucky.
In the frenzy of taking cover, we forgot about my dog in the backyard. I flipped when she wasn't out there after the storm. We were calling her but no response when suddenly she comes out from under the shedconcrete slab all wet and muddy. She had burrowed under that concrete slab to take cover. She went on to live a good dog life and died of old age.
Kimberly, Lancing, TN
I was living in Lancing TN on a farm in a mobile home. The weather channel was calling for some rough weather so my mum, dad, brother and I went to my aunt and uncle's house not far from us because they had a basement and phoned us asking us to come over just in case. I remember being in the living room with several family members, aunts and cousins. My cousin said her friend's house was just hit..I remember it getting very dark really quickly. My nana, who unfortunately would be in another massive tornado in Mossy Grove, TN, several years later, was terrified of storms. My dad and my uncles yelled from the front porch to get into the basement because the tornado was "coming over the mountain."
I remember my adrenaline even as a child being just through the roof. We started the journey to the basement and upon getting down the stairs, saw the basement was completely flooded except for one small spot in the far corner that was on a hill. We had to basically swim to safety. Except I couldn't swim so my mum lifted me up and carried me. We were all piled into this corner of the basement just freaking out while my Nana was praying in a language I didn't understand. There was one small dusty window right across from us ground level and I saw the tornado almost as if it were framed like a picture coming towards us. You could see the roof of the lady down the street just spinning in the tornado and I really thought we would all die. My dad and uncles were still on the front porch watching it like the cowboys they were, which I would never advise. This was the 90s before camera phones were a thing. The tornado tracked closer and the praying got louder. I expected to hear a train like sound but it sounded more like a fighter jet that was very angry. Somehow, some way it "jumped" our house and continued on for a short time behind us. We thought we were in the clear but the night had just begun.
I think it was pure fear that caused my uncle to have a heart attack on the porch that day. We took off to the hospital while warnings were still being handed out like parking tickets. That was the scariest drive ever. I remember looking out the window expecting to see another tornado any minute. Thankfully we made it safely and spent part of the night at the hospital. My uncle was there for days but he was released and is still going strong today.
Fast forward to November 11 2002, Mossy Grove, TN. The skies were so blue all day but I had a pit in my stomach when I seen the black clouds off in the distance. Poor Nana was at church that night along with a bunch of other family and my cousin Linda got up with her newborn to get a drink from the water fountain near the entrance. She looked up and saw the huge tornado coming across the parking lot. She ran and dove into the pews while the tornado moved and twisted the church off its foundation. Most of the congregation dove to the corner. That corner of the church was still there after it was over. We lost lives that night and in such a small county we felt every single loss, especially the small baby who didn't even get to start her life. Her papa was trying to rush her to safety from the mobile home they were in. Ironically, their mobile home wasn't touched but their truck was and both of them perished together. That town still bares the scars and the fear. All of us do really. I was once told we couldn't be hit by tornadoes because of the mountains. What a foolish thing to say, especially since Mossy Grove almost got hit again later but the skies showed mercy that day and settled down almost as if it took pity on us and our non-Walmart or McDonalds town. Lightening can and it will strike twice, three, four times in the same spot. The sad thing is most of us still aren't really prepared for another one. I'm working on a plan. That is the best thing to have here in Dixie Alley because the storms are getting worse. The April outbreak was a nightmare and I got stuck in a Food City that was about to close while there was another tornado warning for where I was. I was so froze in fear so my father drove to me just to let me follow him home. His truck was struck by lightening on his way. Anyway, stay prepared people and most importantly stay informed. I listen to the Weather Channel and am grateful. My 6 year old son is a meteorologist in the making. He loves weather as I do and can tell you how any storm happens, hurricanes.. tornados..floods..smart little feller he is.
Gary Alan, Coffee County, TN, October 2011
Living in “Dixie Alley” we get lots of storms. In April 2011, we had already been hammered by tornadoes. We didn’t get hit but poor Alabama got wrecked. It was extremely odd to see paper debris from Alabama falling from the skies in TN. Even canned goods!
In October of 2011 we had a tornado and MASSIVE hail storm. Where I was working the hail was prominent but only pea sized. I have never seen so much hail fall for so long. This went on for like 10 minutes. It was a rainstorm of hail and the wind was up. We were all just standing there watching it. It was close to go quitting time. Didn’t do any damage to speak of. As I drove home, the closer I got, the worse things looked. Trees were completely stripped of their leaves. Cars were parked on the side of the road with busted windshields. My house is white. When I pulled in the driveway, my house was green! There was not an inch that hadn’t been smattered with leaves. Even then, hailstones as big as a chicken egg were all over the yard and driveway. All the mailboxes had been sucked open and the mail was laying in the middle of the road. Power lines were down. My power line was ripped loose.
The actual hail looked like it was grapefruit sized and went on just as long as the storm across town. About 10 minutes. I was very thankful that I had closed my swimming pool the weekend prior to that. Tons of debris in the cover. Things started to happen pretty quickly after that. My neighbor came running and wanted to know if I had damage. They had been sitting on their porch and saw the funnel and ran. No warnings were out that day. That’s pretty common here. Storms pop up so quickly, you have to be a good watchful person.
My cell phone rang and my parents had been coming back to town right about where the storm began. They said they could see a black cloud approaching them fast and then the hail hit. It busted out their windshields and the car got picked up and thrown in a ditch. I went to go pick them up and you couldn’t even get back there from all the debris on the road and the cops turning everybody away.
Everybody in town had to have a new roof. Roofing companies from every state in the union set up temporary camp here in town. Adjustors set up tents in the mall parking lot for you to drive your car into to assess damage assembly-line style. Roofing companies were going door to door. You don’t notice things right away. It immediately turned winter cold after that storm, too cold to get out and look around. I had to have new roofing on the house and all the outbuildings.
Then in the spring when it finally got warm enough that you could actually go outside – that’s when you notice the weird stuff. The screens were pulled up out of the frames in the windows. Some of the vinyl siding had holes. The dryer vent had been shattered. A plastic bucket full of sand for the swimming pool steps had been shattered. The kicker was taking the cover off the pool and the plastic side rails looked like swiss cheese! The holes were all about 2-4 inches in diameter. AMAZING! It took about 2 years or so to get all the roofing jobs done in town. With hail that large and coming down that hard it killed cattle. It just beat everything to smithereens.
Frances, Parker, CO, 1983
It was spring, 1983. I was visiting my parents, 7 miles southeast of Parker, Colorado, while my husband (USMC) was overseas. My baby was asleep in a west-facing bedroom, Mom and Dad had gone shopping, and I thought the storm clouds in the west looked like they might bring hail. I went out to cover the baby vegetable plants in my mother's garden, on the hillside about 100 yards south of the house.
Every time I glanced at the storm I was alarmed by how much bigger it had become and how quickly it was approaching. With the last of the vegetables covered, I stood on the hillside wondering why there was so much noise coming from the entire western sky.... Then I saw the reason for the buzz-saw noise. The storm was raging up the hill, from the southwest corner of my parents' 5 acre lot, directly toward me. Its leading edge was as well-defined as a wall. The hail within it was chomping up the branches of shrub oak and Ponderosa pine, mixing them with blasted up dirt and grass, and spewing them out like missiles. I ran for the house and my baby.
As I tore into the house through the west door of the sun porch, and reflexively slammed the door closed behind me, the hail chewed into the screen door, and the wood above me. Pulverized ice and torn screen from the door whooshed down on my heels and icy fog rebounded with a force that blew my hair straight up. As I tore through the porch, into the house and north, down the hall, the windows along the west wall exploded, one by one, to my left and just a fraction of a second behind me. I ran to my son, yanked him with a one-handed grab from his crib just an instant before the window exploded, and wrapping him into my arms I scurried down to the basement and into the root cellar. The lights didn't work.
As my eyes grew accustomed to the dark I tried to see my baby's face clearly enough to look for injuries. None. I felt him all over for glass. There wasn't any. Then I realized he was crying- probably shrieking- and I couldn't hear him over the noise of the storm: roaring wind, pounding hail and constant, overlapping blasts and rumbles of lightning. I'd never heard so much lightning, nor so much noise from a storm. It was deafening. I tried to soothe him, but then the house took a direct hit of lightning and suddenly I was frightened, too. Afraid we might be burned alive if the house, above and beside us, burned. Together we huddled, terrified, and crying, and waiting. I didn't smell smoke. I told myself everything would be OK. Then just as suddenly as it had come, the noise was gone; except for a dull roar and the rumbling of lightning moving northeast, like the sound of a big truck with no muffler, driving away at two miles per hour. So I began to venture out from the root cellar. But as I stuck my head out the door to look into the basement, a fierce pounding began again, on the north wall of the house. So I held my son and soothed him there in the root cellar, as the pounding increased to a roar, coming from the entire house above us, and slowly diminished again.
Once burned is twice learned. I stayed in the cellar waiting for the storm to circle back yet again. When I couldn't hear it any more, I finally left the basement.I listened to the battery operated radio: no report of storms. I called KOA news to find out whether more storms were expected. They hadn't seen any storms on their maps and clearly thought me demented.
I called my brother who lived nearby. He and his family had taken shelter from the storm in a spec-home he was building. They huddled in two groups, in the southwest and southeast corners of the building, and fearfully watched the 30 foot south wall of the home's family room stretching out between them, flex and wobble with the blast of the storm. It had held. They were ok. My parents came home- they had seen piles of hail and debris on the roads, but they hadn't seen the storm.
My brother and his family headed for home and found that there was so much hail in the Pinery, a subdivision south of Parker, that snow plows had to be called out to remove the hail as cars and even pickup trucks like his couldn't get through. It was still 12 inches deep when the plows finally arrived.
The shingles were nearly gone off my parents' house, the siding had been hammered and splintered, all the north and west windows were broken, and the screens ripped to shreds. Trees in their windbreak had no small branches or bark left, just bare wood, on the north and west sides of their trunks and larger branches. But my dad had built the house with 3/4 inch plywood where only 1/2 inch was required, and no hail penetrated it. Our neighbors to the north reported hail went through their roof and embedded in their hardwood floor.
My car, parked outside, was bent and hammered mercilessly, yet all the glass survived; while the rear end of the same neighbor's car was hammered only lightly, as it was inside their garage and the hail had only come in through the windows of the garage door; but both tail lights and the back window were broken out.
Two weeks later, if I recall correctly, KOA -the local radio station- acknowledged with chagrin that they had missed the storm entirely. It had been so dense with hail that it showed up on radar as solid- just like the earth itself. It wasn't until one of their staff tried to make an unrelated insurance claim, and was told that every available claims adjuster in the entire United States was busy with a natural disaster in Parker, Colorado... that KOA and the rest of the country became aware of the storm.
Michelle, Skiatook, OK, 1991
In the spring of 1991, I lived in the country near Skiatook, OK. I was visiting my friends in town when I noticed that on TV it showed a tornado warning headed for Skiatook. I convinced my friends to take shelter inside of the end hall closet. The noises I heard during the tornado hit was indescribable. I do remember hearing nails squeak out of boards as they were being forced out by the fierce tornado. When it was all over, the tornado that hit our town was measured F-4. It leveled several of the brick homes in that neighborhood. The closet that we were in was OK and we were OK. Only the door frame remained of the room to the west of the closet, right next to the closet. My mom just about had a terrible accident racing to town in the pouring rain to find me. All she could do was yell out for me because all phone lines and electric was down and their was dangerous debris. I have rheumatoid arthritis so the intense low pressure temporarily disabled me. I couldn't walk. My friend carried me to my mother, who then carried me to the car parked about 1/2 mile or so away. I have to say that praying and getting into that closet most likely saved our lives that night. It was the absolute most frightening experience I have ever been through. People really need to pay attention to the forecast, especially in spring time. Tornadoes can do some awesome, yet scary things.
Larry, Springfield, MA, 2011
It was June 1st of 2011 when a Tornado touched down that would affect the lives of many and take the lives of three. Springfield, Massachusetts is a relative stranger to the ravages of these types of storms. Although severe summer storms occur, the tornado is rarely experienced in our area. This particular day we had had a NOAA tornado watch. Most thought that this was unlikely but local authorities heeding this warning surely saved many lives.
Schools had let out early and after school events were either postponed or canceled. At around 4:00 a tornado warning came over the television. This warning gave the precise location and direction of the sighted storm and it was barreling towards our neighborhood. I told my wife we would be heading toward the basement when I made the call. She told me I was overreacting, but I took a stern tone and repeated what I had just said.
Looking west, I could see the sky turning a greenish brown hue and all of a sudden the trees began to bend under the strain of the wind. I yelled and we all went into the basement. As we hit the cellar floor I heard a large thump that shook the house. Our next door neighbor had a double trunked maple tree split in two and fall into her home. It was over in just a few minutes, and when things had subsided I went out back and saw insulation on the ground and new that buildings must have been damaged. We were fortunate. Thanks to the early warnings given by the National Weather Service and the response of the officials. Very few injuries or fatalities occurred. If school had been in session students would have been walking the streets and the loss of many more lives would have been likely.
A woman was killed as she shielded her baby in a tub, another was killed when her R.V. was lifted and thrown at a campground, and another man was killed in his car by a falling tree. Fortunately the only issues we had were loss of power for a few days and my children’s school, Cathedral High School was destroyed. Thank you to those who work for the National Weather Service. Lives were saved that June afternoon thanks to their dedication and pursuit of the understanding of weather.
Tatiana, Utah, 2016
This event was in 2016. I live in Utah and I was in the kitchen where we had a glass door to go to the backyard. I was looking outside through the closed door because I saw leaves that were in my backyard and my neighbors backyard and I was like "Whoa, the leaves are floating! It's like there's aliens are getting the leaves!" Then my mom said to move from the window and to grab my little sister, who was 2 years old and so I moved her. I asked my mom "why?" And she said "because it's a tornado." I was scared, our power went off, we couldn't find our candles but then we found it so I was happy. I was so happy and grateful that I was still alive and safe. Some of my friends almost died because large trees fell. It was an unforgettable event.
Shan, McAllen, TX, 2010
We were out of town when a hailstorm hit McAllen, Texas, in 2010 or 2011. The storm ripped through north McAllen and windows on the north sides of homes were shattered. Some think it might have been a small tornado. The flooding part though was caused by the buildup of hailstones over the street drains, blocking the escape of water from heavy rains. Water rose, and homes that you never would have expected to flood did. Ever since then we have carried flood insurance.
Amanda, Omaha, NE, May 2008,
When you live in Tornado alley it is drilled into your head what to look, feel, hear, and even smell for regarding a tornado. It was May 2008, around 1 or2 am. I was living in a mobile home park in Omaha right up the street from Zorinsky Lake ( always had a killer view!). My friends and I were sitting on her porch talking and having a wonderful time. I kept looking toward Zorinsky Lake. I knew there was a storm coming; you could just feel it and smell the rain. It had been so humid that day and as the storm grew closer it had dropped temperature fast. I look out and all I see is lightening. I didn’t hear thunder at all. I say to my friends, “I see lightning, but there is no thunder, no rain, no nothing. Usually you hear thunder”. Next thing I knew the breeze suddenly stopped and there was the silence. No crickets, no frogs, no locusts calling out for mates. Nothing. I call to my friends and we get inside the trailer. As soon as we shut the door, we hear what sounded like a freight train. The entire home shook and we ducked and huddled together. The door flew open and I look outside while we are interlocking arms to make sure we try to stay together. All I see is rain and what appeared to be smoke swirling around. My friend’s dad ran out from the bedroom, and slammed the door and asked if we were alright. There were no sirens, no warnings, nothing. The mobile home stopped shaking. It was still so calm and then the sirens started to go off. It was so faint to the point I thought I had lost my hearing. We turn on the TV to Channel 7 and we see Bill Randby, Chief Meteorologist, who said that there was a confirmed tornado within city limits. It had touched down in Omaha, but the sirens were late and that it has moved out of the park. We go outside and looked on our little community. There were no deaths, few were injured, but for being mobile homes, they were still holding up strong. Turned out the tornado did not touch down fully in the park, but still threw a carport into a neighboring car and tipped a tree to the point you couldn’t go up the road in any type of vehicle. I remember taking in a deep breath and hugging my friend and running over to my mom’s house and making sure she was alright. Till this day, I still remember that day and it still plays in my head. I now have two little girls to whom I am passing all the “farmer tricks” to and teaching them to keep an eye in the sky and a foot in the tornado shelter in spring.
Susan, Red Springs, NC, 1984
The day had been beautiful, we were going to my husband's mother's house for a cookout. We had the boys (aged 11 and 7 at the time) headed to the truck. My husband called for our dog a husky/chow mix to get on the back of the truck, but he would't come out of the house. My husband started to fuss with him, but you could tell Hobo was upset. The dog just would not leave the house. I told my husband something was wrong and all of a sudden you could feel the air change. I called for the boys to get back in the house. We got in the center part of the house when all the doors blew open. It was probably the only thing besides the dog that saved us. The tornado cut a path through the woods directed behind the house, maybe 10 feet, and continued until the whole town seemed to have been torn down. In less than 45 minutes, the National Guard was there and had declared martial law. The state patrol came to get my husband to help clear some of the roads. With just me and the children and Hobo, I spent the longest night of my life. You could tell from the sirens and helicopters that it was really bad! I remember looking out after it got dark and the pine trees glowed from the sap where the tops had been torn out. It was a devastatingly unforgettable event!
William, Smithville, MS, 2011
On April 27 2011, a tornado outbreak struck Smithville, Mississippi. After hearing the alert, I had walked outside. It was partly cloudy and warm but it turned cool so quickly that I thought it was over and I walked back inside my house. I lived in a apartment in a house with a double wall, a sound proof wall that separated my apartment from my neighbors. I was watching the news. WTVA Chief Meteorologist Matt Laubhan said the storm was coming to Smithville and I just stood there watching, waiting, looking at the TV and thinking this isn't gonna happen. About 30 seconds later, the power went out and the entire house shook for a minute and then stopped and I thought it was over so I was about to get up from my floor when the shaking began again and wouldn't stop this time. I felt the pressure drop and as the shaking got louder, I got worried. Then it felt like the house exploded. I woke up one hour and a half later in a field a 1/4 mile away from the house with cuts to my body and a deep cut to my head and covered in blood dirt and grass. I was taken to Tupelo, Mississippi, where I spent 2 weeks in recovery.