Cleveland Tornado 70th Anniversary
This year will be the 70th anniversary of the 1953 Cleveland, Ohio Tornado. The twister struck just north of the Parma area on the night of June 8th, 1953. For those of you who have never heard of this incident, the twister developed just west of the Cleveland Hopkins Airport. This occurred at approximately 9:30 PM on a Monday. The sun had already settled, but the sky took on an eerie greenish glow over the area. The National Weather Bureau previously warned local airport officials that a tornado was confirmed to be on the ground 37 miles west of the airport and was headed their way.
When the twister finally showed up over the airport’s northern runways, it was only visible to air traffic controllers when it was illuminated by the lightning flashes. As the rotating vortex passed by the edge of the airport’s dome tower, the air traffic controllers were surprised to hear only a soft-purring sound coming from it. They continued to watch the twister as it moved northerly off into the distance towards the city of Lindale, before veering off towards the west side of Cleveland.
Even though several warnings were sent out over the television and radio stations, Clevelanders were confused as to what action to take. On top of everything else, the TV networks were unwilling to interrupt their number one show “I Love Lucy”, so many Clevelanders never saw any weather alerts. To many people, the only sign that something was happening was when all the electricity went out. The twister devastated a new development near the Bellaire Avenue and West 117 Street area. It injured hundreds and killed an infant by sucking it from it’s crib and out the bedroom window. Unfortunately, other than a council meeting being canceled earlier that evening, because of the posted weather threats, most Parma residents never knew a tornado was on the ground just a few miles away. It wasn’t until the following day, when watching the local news, that they were shocked to see the damage from the tornado.
That same day, the latest 3-D motion picture “It Came from Outer Space” was showing at the Hippodrome Theater, in downtown Cleveland, when the twister hit. As it passed over downtown Cleveland the movie theater began shaking. The movie goers believed that it was part of the sound system specially installed for the new movie’s release. However, it wasn’t until after the movie ended and they stepped out of the theater, into the streets among the carnage, they began to question whether something did come “from Outer space”.
Interestingly, just a few days before the tornado struck Cleveland, The City of Parma received their own storm when lightning strikes caught some houses on fire. Some of the concussions from the storm even blasted people out of their chairs as the lightning shot into their homes. One newspaper article told of a bolt of lightning entering a window of a house, striking the carpet between a four year old girl’s feet, before exiting through the bathroom window.
A video documentary was actually produced about this tornado by a video company called, Shocker Enterprises, located right here in Parma, Ohio. In 2008, this video first aired on public access channels in the area. This documentary will once again be shown through the month of March, for its 70th anniversary. The video can be viewed on Cox Cable, Channel 45, on Fridays at 8:30 PM and Sundays at 9:00 PM. Also, for those who are interested, a behind the scenes video focused on how the visuals effects were created for the documentary will be aired in March on Wednesdays at 8:00 PM and Saturdays at 6:00 PM. For more information call: 440 888-8327 Or Go to: ShockerEnterprises.com.
I am a Parma resident who has lived in the city for over 24 Years. I'm also a non-profit video producer who produces national, and international documentaries for public access, private and goverment networks .