5/7/71 Chase by Keith Atkins


From: KD4SVA (roadie@iswt.com):
Subject: West Tenn Tornado Stories-1 

By Keith Akins.
Tuesday May 7, 1971; My dad had just arrived home from work preparing to
mow the yard when he noticed kind of a strange dark cloud smooth in
appearance underneath with no sign of a storm tower building above. Only
blue sky could be seen directly above it. It was hot and extremely humid
while not a single breeze could be felt. My dad asked me if I would go
to town with him to get some gas for the mower. When we got back I went
inside so I didn't see what Dad saw. The cloud seemes to grow darker and
thicker underneath but still no thunderhead had bloomed above. It seemed
to be in a pancake formation with no sign of anything, thunder or
lightning or none of that. Suddenly two black ridges (BLACK AS ASPHALT)
broke out from the two furtherest corners of that cloud and met at a
point almost at the very edge of the bank where a cotton white "V"
shaped drinking cup appeared and stood perfectly still. From all
directions the puffiest prettiest cotton white clouds seemed to form all
over the clear blue sky over head and began to streak rapidly toward the
funnel from all directions. The funnel suddenly ran a thin cork-screw to
the ground and then broke off. It ran another which too broke off. The
third stuck but the now tornado still stood perfectly still (here it
should be noted that no sign of any lowered cloud base could be seen as
the tornado stood well above the trees around our pond just down from
the storm cellar and it was 2-1/2 miles away). The tornado began to move
slightly to the south as It began to pick up debris and form the debris
shroud. It took 2 minutes for the debris shroud to form, but when it did
the throttle went wide open heading south toward Trezevant TN. After
crossing Hy 79 between Trezevant and Wingo, it suddenly stopped as if the
brakes were slammed. A neighbor of mine right across from the field
stopped in said that the thing appeared to be tailspinning whipping
around violently. It finnaly slungshot toward Big Buck community. {Here
it should be noted that there was still no sign of any thunder head
(Storm Tower) or lowered cloud base. Everything seemed to be in reverse)

When the tornado approached Big Buck two more formed one on each side of
the first one and met right at a mobile home obliterating it and ripping
water and sewage pipes right out of the ground. The tornado then set
sights on Huntingdon TN where fruit jars were thrown through brick walls
without scarring the glass, a sheet of notebook paper was torpedoed
through a pane glass window without cracking the glass, and a 15ft
section of rail off of the railroad was pulled loose out of a crossing
and coiled back like a cork-screw. This tornado was already through
Huntingdon when like an atom bomb a cumulus mushroom formed rapidly.
This tornado lifted after passing Buna-Vista community and stayed in the
air all the way to Nashville where mail from mailboxes in Huntingdon
were rained down on Nashville residents.

I've heard of this type of formation called a black widow but nobody
seems to have ever heard the term.

I'll have to write you about the 1984 tornado later. My back's killing
me!!!!!

Return to Reports Page