1980 Grand Island tornado outbreak
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In this picture, there are two independent tornadoes on the ground marked by large debris clouds at ground level and are located a few hundred yards away from one another. The smaller tornado on the left is the first F1 to hit Grand Island. The 0.25 mile-wide tornado on the right is the second F3 to hit. Power flashes from electrical lines being destroyed by the ferocious winds illuminate the nighttime tornadoes.
|Date(s)||June 2–3, 1980|
|Maximum rated tornado||F4 (Fujita scale)|
|Damages||$285.05 million (1980 USD)|
The 1980 Grand Island tornado outbreak, also known as The Night of the Twisters, was a tornado outbreak that produced a series of destructive tornadoes that affected the city of Grand Island, Nebraska on June 3, 1980. Seven tornadoes touched down in or near the city that night, killing 5 and injuring 200. The name "The Night of the Twisters" comes from the semi-fictionalized book of the same name by author Ivy Ruckman, which in turn inspired a 1996 made-for-TV movie seen on ABC Family. While the Grand Island tornado outbreak is best known for the Grand Island tornado family on June 3, the outbreak as a whole produced 15 tornadoes, and caused severe damage as far east as Pennsylvania.
The outbreak began on June 2, producing strong tornadoes in Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio, including one that struck the east side of Indianapolis. One fatality occurred near Crawfordsville, Indiana. Tornado activity continued on June 3, with additional strong tornadoes touching down in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Nebraska. Over a span of three hours on the evening of June 3, 1980, a slow-moving supercell complex moving across Grand Island, Nebraska spawned several tornadoes. The resulting outbreak was one of the most unusual in United States history: The supercells moved over the city at only 8 mph (13 km/h); of the seven tornadoes, three of them were anticyclonic; and the tornadoes did not move in a straight line, with most looping back over their own path at least once.
Six people were killed by the tornadoes, over 200 more injured, and damages were estimated at more than $285 million (USD) ($600 million 2003 USD). In Nebraska, Tornado warnings allowed people to get to safety in time, which prevented a higher death toll. The South Locust Street area in Grand Island was hardest hit, struck by the fifth tornado of the night (an F4 tornado). Much of the rubble and debris left by the tornadoes was placed in a landfill that now forms Tornado Hill, a popular biking and sledding spot In Grand Island today.
June 2 event
|List of confirmed tornadoes - Monday, June 2, 1980|
|F2||Covington area||Fountain||1300||5 miles (8.0 km)||A hardware store and four homes were destroyed in Covingon.|
|F3||Waynetown to S of Crawfordsville||Montgomery||1315||18 miles (29 km)||1 Death - Near-F4 damage and serious injuries occurred south of Crawfordsville. One woman was killed when her trailer was obliterated and scattered over 30 acres. Caused $2,000,000 in damage and injured 16 people.|
|F2||Indianapolis||Marion||1400||unknown||Near-F3 struck the east side of Indianapolis, destroying four homes and damaging a dozen others. Flying debris caused a traffic accident on I-465. Six people were injured.|
|F2||New Palestine||Hancock||1405||unknown||Near-F3 tore apart many homes in town and ripped the roof off of a grocery store. A high school and an elementary school were heavily damaged. Four people were injured, including a woman who was trapped in the debris of her trailer home.|
|F2||S of Allerton||Wayne||0630||5 miles (8.0 km)||Tornado struck a farm, twisting the house off its foundation and destroying several outbuildings. Six train cars were derailed and another home lost its roof.|
|F2||Cincinnati to West Grove||Appanoose, Davis||0705||20 miles (32 km)||Trees were damaged and three homes were partially unroofed. Three trailer homes were destroyed, and other homes and trailers were damaged. A Masonic Lodge was damaged as well. There were five injuries, all of which occurred in trailer homes.|
|F4||SW of Davis City to S of Corydon||Decatur, Wayne||1525||32 miles (51 km)||Long-track tornado completely destroyed a farmhouse near Davis City, and unroofed a fertilizer plant.|
|F2||NE of Blackford||Jackson||1830||8 miles (13 km)||Two homes lost their roofs, and seven farm buildings were destroyed in rural area.|
June 3 event
|List of confirmed tornadoes - Tuesday, June 3, 1980|
|F3||NW of Grand Island||Hall||1945||14.5 miles (23.3 km)||1 Death - Tornado touched down 11 miles northwest of Grand Island. First of seven tornadoes to hit the city in just over 2 hours. Farm homes outside of town were torn apart, and a woman was killed while trying to drive to a relative's house. The tornado killed 1, injured 25, and caused an estimated $2.5 million in damages. Although the straight line path of the tornado was only 7.0 miles (11.3 km), the actual length was over double because the track was highly unusual in that it looped and crossed itself numerous times. Tornado had a surveyed path width of 0.4 miles (0.6 km).|
|F1||N Grand Island||Hall||unknown||0.8 miles (1.3 km)||Small anticyclonic tornado briefly touched down in the northern edges of Grand Island, just east of the first tornado. Second of seven tornadoes to hit the city in just over 2 hours. The tornado caused an estimated $25,000 in damages an five injuries. First of three anticyclonic tornadoes.|
|F3||Grand Island||Hall||2005||3.5 miles (5.6 km)||Tornado touched down north of Grand Island and moved into the city near Airport Road, between US218 and Webb Rd. Third of seven tornadoes to hit the city in just over 2 hours. The tornado injured 40 and caused an estimated $2.5 million in damages. Although most damage was rated F0, several homes were heavily damaged and some F3 damage was noted near the veteran's home, which had windows blown out. Second of three anticyclonic tornadoes. Tornado path length was 3.5 miles (5.6 km) and maximum surveyed path width was 0.3 miles (0.5 km).|
|F1||SE of Grand Island||Hall||unknown||2.5 miles (4.0 km)||Tornado touched down southeast of Grand Island and moved toward the southwest, west, and even north. Last of three anticyclonic tornadoes.|
|F4||Grand Island||Merrick, Hall||2116||6.0 miles (9.7 km)||4 Deaths - Tornado touched down just east of Grand island, then moved west into the city. Once within the city, the tornado turned south and followed Locust Street, causing some of the most intense damage of the outbreak to businesses and neighboring residences, some of which were "obliterated". Numerous homes, vehicles, businesses, trees, and power lines were destroyed. Damages exceeded $200 million, and 110 people were injured. Tornado path length was 6.0 miles (9.7 km) and the surveyed path width was 0.6 miles (1.0 km).|
|F2||SE of Grand Island||Hall||2125||6.0 miles (9.7 km)||Tornado touched down southeast of Grand Island. Sixth of the seven tornadoes that hit Grand Island. The tornado caused an estimated $2.5 million in damages and 18 injuries. Tornado path length was 6.0 miles (9.7 km) miles with a surveyed path width of 0.3 miles (0.5 km).|
|F1||SE of Grand Island||Hall, Hamilton||unknown||13.4 miles (21.6 km)||Tornado touched down southeast of Grand Island. Last of the seven tornadoes in the area. The tornado caused an estimated $2.5 million in damages and two injuries. The tornado tracked across mostly rural areas and avoided many homes. Path length was 13.4 miles (21.6 km).|
|F4||Natrona Heights to Vandergrift to Apollo||Allegheny, Westmoreland, Armstrong||unknown||1230||14 miles (22.5 km)||A restaurant and two stores were severely damaged in Natrona Heights, with 12 injuries at that location. Seven homes were damaged in Vandergrift, and a trailer park in Apollo was devastated. One home was nearly leveled by this tornado. Caused $6,000,000 in damage and injured 140 people. Rated F3 by Grazulis.|
|F2||N of Saltzburg||Indiana||unknown||1305||6 miles (9.7 km)||A half dozen homes, a helicopter, and three trailers were torn apart. Six people were injured.|
|F3||Ridgedale to Crellin||Monongalia, Preston, Garrett(MD)||unknown||1430||28 miles (45.1 km)||In West Virginia, 28 homes were destroyed and 102 others were damaged. Thirteen businesses and nine public buildings were damaged as well. Reedsville was hard hit. A mobile home park there was destroyed, and a two year old child was thrown nearly a mile into a field, but survived. The tornado continued into Maryland where two trailer homes were destroyed, 15 permanent homes were damaged, and 12 farms were damaged. Caused $7,000,000 in damage and 19 injuries. Most destructive West Virginia tornado since 1944.|
Fictionalized accounts of the event
In 1984, a semi-fictionalized book version of this significant tornado outbreak by children's author Ivy Ruckman, a native of Nebraska, was released under the title Night of the Twisters. The book told the story of Danny Hatch, a pre-teen and his family, and what happened to them as the event took place.
The book inspired a made-for-cable television original movie of the same name, that premiered on February 14, 1996 on The Family Channel (now ABC Family). The movie version still centered on the Hatch Family and most of the characters in the book were adapted to the film. However, there were several discrepancies from the movie and the book version. The most notable being the town in the movie is changed from Grand Island to the fictional town of Blainsworth, which Ivy Ruckman reportedly was disappointed about as it took some of the reality out of the actual event. Danny's father's name is changed to Jack in the film (played by John Schneider) and is mentioned to be his stepfather as Danny's real father is revealed to have died in a plane crash when Danny was six years old. One somewhat prominent character in the movie was Bob Iverson (played by David Ferry), who was not included in the book.
Danny's mother occupation is also changed to waitress. The last scene in the film in which the Hatch family tries to outrun a tornado in a car lent to them at a shelter was added specifically for the film and was not in the book, either. Danny and his friend Arthur's (played by Devon Sawa and Amos Crawley) ages are also changed to their mid-teens (though their ages are never mentioned in the film).