July 20, 1962: It was a dark and stormy day

Path of the 1962 tornado. We lived on Oakwood St, near the origin.

Path of the 1962 tornado, as marked by the yellow line. We lived on Oakwood St, near the origin. (Photo of TornadoHistoryProject.com)

With March on the horizon, we’re now approaching the severe storm season, and I’ll be paying attention to forecasts and reports about tornadoes, building on a fascination that traces back to my early childhood. And thanks to an incredible database, TornadoHistoryProject.com, I can track down the history and path of the very first tornado I ever experienced, albeit down in the basement of my childhood Griffith, Indiana home.

It was July 20, 1962. Mom had taken my brother Jeff (almost 9 months old) and me (almost 3 years old) down to the basement by the time the tornado passed over our house. After it was safe to leave the basement, I went upstairs to see that our swing set had been knocked over. That was the worst of it. Thankfully it was a relatively weak tornado, with no reported injuries. However, as I’ve learned from the Tornado History Project, it had some staying power, traveling nearly 15 miles.

This is one of my earliest and sharpest childhood memories. In fact, I cannot recall anything else from that time making such imprint. My next firm memory comes from over a year later, when I was watching President Kennedy’s funeral.

I guess this helps to explain why I’ve been so captivated by tornadoes. In recent years, I’ve been going on storm chase tours and hanging out on Facebook with storm chasers and other bad weather enthusiasts. I guess some experiences just stick to the ribs, yes?

***

Related post

My first storm chase tour: May 2008 (May 2014)

 

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