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The Thornton Tornado of 81 . It was a scary time

Updated on May 11, 2012

Tornadoes Still Capture Our Imagination

Most tornadoes form when two masses of air at different heights moving different directions cause a wind shear. An updraft is also necessary. As you may remember from junior high. Warm air rises. The super cell that most tornadoes come from can be ten miles across.

Scientist still have a lot to learn about tornadoes. Most tornadoes are in the USA or Canada , But they do happen all over the world.

The largest tornado ever recorded was in 2004 on May 22nd. near Hallam, Nebraska. It was over two miles wide.

In 2011 there were a total of 1,691 tornadoes. The only year on record with more was 2004 with 1,817 .


A few days ago,I heard Larry the cable guy say"happier than a tornado in a trailer park"

I was living in a trailer in 1981.To this day I can not explain why ,but my parents moved from a house to a trailer. By choice not necessity.

I was only 14 when we moved there. I was to young to understand why they gave up a house for a mobile home.

We lived in a 16 wide. That was as big as they come without being a double wide.

Our house faced South. That is the long sides faced east and west.

On June 3, 1981 sometime around 3:00 or 3:30 pm It had started to hail . It was good sized hail. Nothing crazy but good sized. However there was no rain. In tornado country that is a bad sign.

Now For you younger folks. These were not modular homes like you see now. Shingle roofs , wood siding.

These houses had medal roofs and siding. Hail made lots of noise. Any way we heard the hail, so we were all at the windows and door to see what was going on. Now keep in mind we had heard no tornado warning of any kind.

What I saw next is still fresh in my mind today 32 years later.

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A Tornado In A Trailer Court

A small tornado still building was right above us. It came down to within 8 or 9 feet from the ground ,And went between our house and the neighbor's . Tearing the roof from our shed.

The small tornado proceeded north and west into the main town of Thornton.

After our little encounter some others were far less lucky. It became a F2 ,and did $10 million in damage. That would be about $25 million now. 42 people were hurt but by the grace off God none were killed .

In the next few days .I was able to ride my bike around town to see the damage, most of it was close enough for me to ride over and see it.. If you have never seen first hand what a tornado does. Believe me it is scary as hell.

All three photos were taken on /or close to June 3rd 1981 in Thornton Colorado.

So that is my little tornado story. I hope you enjoyed it, And thanks for reading.


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    • bmcoll3278 profile image

      bmcoll3278 5 years ago from Longmont, Colorado

      It was many years ago. But it was scary. Thanks for reading.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank-you for sharing your memory of the Tornado. I have never been close to one and hope never to be. The damage is sad. I'm glad you are safe!