July 30th, 1987. A night I remember well. I was ten years old and living in Edmonton, Alberta. I was visiting relatives at that time in my hometown of Beaverlodge, Alberta. I remember my parents were still in Stony Plain, near Edmonton, while I was up on my own. I don’t exactly recall how I got there. But that’s not important. What’s important is what happened over the next 24 hours.
That night, we were in Grande Prairie watching a couple of movies, Dragnet and Superman IV to be exact. Dragnet was entertaining with comedy giants of the ’80s Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd. Superman IV was a disaster. Maybe it foreshadowed what was about to happen.
On our way back to my aunt, uncle, and cousin’s home, we were treated to an intense thunderstorm so incredible that it was almost like daylight. There was so much lightning, you could probably read a book. I love thunderstorms, and even when I was ten, I enjoyed watching the lightning show. Far better than Superman IV.
The next day, everything was going normally until we saw the news. It was very troubling, and I was scared. You see, July 31st, 1987 was the day that the tornado hit Edmonton. 27 dead. It mostly hit the industrial area in the eastern part of the city, as well as some countryside, but it was devastating. It was an F4 tornado, which is pretty powerful. I’ll let this video show you how bad it was. It’s a bit old, but you’ll see just what it was like. [Edit: Video no long appears to exist, which is a shame.]
What’s frightening is that it came pretty close to another relative’s house, and its path is very close to where my sister and mom live now. When it was on the news, I called my parents. They told me they were fine. It was on the east side of the city, while our home was west of the city. However, the weather was pretty intense there, too. As you can imagine, a lot was going through my ten-year-old mind. I was glad my family was safe.
Since then, I have seen some crazy-looking storms around the Edmonton area, as well as in Victoria, BC. But I’ve also been through many typhoons here in Japan. But nothing could match how I felt about that tornado. We can ride out a typhoon, but a tornado destroys whatever is in its path.
Exactly 18 years after the tornado, I climbed Mt. Fuji. A tornado can sometimes be shaped like an inverted volcano. Strange.
Have you ever flirted with disaster?