"The roof was caving in and I thought I was going to die. It was like your worst
nightmare!" said Mary Grandish. Most people think they will die when they see,or hear of
a tornado heading their way.
Although all the details of the formation of a tornado are not yet understood, it is
known that tornados are the result of great instability in the atmosphere and often appear
during severe thunderstorms (see appendix #1 for a scientific explaination on how it really
starts). Strong updrafts present in severe thunderstorms result in a rotational momentum.
Falling rain and/or snow probably drags air from aloft when it comes falling down. The
combination of severe thunderstorms and sweltering heat are the breeding grounds for a
tornados' formation. The first sign of a tornado is a strong dust whirlwind along with a
funnel growing from the storm cloud. A more organized funnel descends farther from the
cloud, sometimes even touching the ground. Funnel winds generally move
counterclockwise and the funnel can move slowly or at about 100/ft per second.
Eventually the tornado becomes fragmented and dissipates causing the end of the tornado.
Tornados are the cause of great destruction and devistation in the area in which
they occur. For example the Tri-State Tornado of 1925 occured in the Kansas, Oklahoma,
and Texas States. This tornado was one of the largest tornados recorded in history. It
killed nearly 625 people. However, the tornado which strikes closest to home has occured
on what Canadians have come to know as "BLACK FRIDAY".
The tornado of "Black Friday" touched down on July 31st, 1987 at 2:59 pm. (See
appendix #2 for the torndo path). (See appendix #'s 4&5 for maps locating the disaster
sights). 27 people were killed; 25 people died during the tornado and 2 died later in the
hospital. Hundreds of other people were injured and thousands were left homeless.
Edmontonians faced a horrible natural phenomenon which destroyed homes, farms, and
businesses. (See appendix #3 for a picture of what it looked like after the tornado struck
up the street). More than 25 auto dealers faced a loss of more than $100,000 worth of
cars, which were struck by hail measurihg at up to 10 inches in circumference. Not only
were auto dealers' cars affected, but many other privately owned cars were damaged to
varying degrees. The Kennedale storm sewer overloaded and outfall collapsed, which
caused many people to call in complaining of flooded basements. Damage estimites were
listed at between $150-$300 million dollars. $20 million dollars damage was done to
Evergreen Mobile Home Trailer Park; $50-$70 million dollars damage to residential areas
across the Millwoods and Clareview areas; $6-$8 million dollars damage to the Transalta
Utilities power equipment consisted of:
49 - 240,000 volt double circuit steel towers
17 - 138,000 volt double circuit steel towers
134 - 138,000 volt single circuit wooden structures
Although there is no way to stop a tornado, there is a way to prevent death and
limit personal loss. People should get into the lowest level in their home, apartment, or
trailer. The reason for this is that if you go into your basement when the tornado hits you
will have less of a chance of getting sucked up into it. People should tune into all radio,
T.V. and other forms of communication to recieve warnings of the tornado and its
movements so people can be prepared and take cover until it passes. We should ensure
that all the schools and community buildings are open for people to seek shelter if they are
caught out of doors when the tornado threatens.
Tornados affect tens of thousands of people and cause wide spread destruction to
any thing they come in contact with. "Black Friday" will be remembered in the hearts and
minds of most Edmontonians as the greatest, tragic event ever to occur locally. The power
of nature continues to astound us and makes us aware of how fragile mankinds existance