Tornado in Dawson

OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL)

Different people react differently to violent storms. My mother taught me that storms were fascinating and to be respected, not feared. Grace relates this story about her and her mother watching a dramatic storm on the prairie. I have my tornado stories. They’re pretty benign by comparison, and they illustrate my feelings about storms.

My favorite storm story happened when Judy and I lived in the apartments along highway 52 in Rochester. One warm Saturday afternoon some storms rolled through from the southwest and our neighbors joined us on the balcony to watch what became a small tornado. We had great fun watching while the sirens were howling and the radio kept us updated on where to hide. We stood on the balcony and watched.

The second tornado related event was when our kids were little and Elsie was watching them at our house. Elsie was one of the people who fear tornadoes. It was late evening, Judy and I were driving home from some outing with friends when the tornado warning sounded. By the time we got home Elsie had dragged the kids into the basement and done her best to instill her fear into them. Everyone was wide-eyed and the kids were howling as loud as the emergency sirens. Judy and I got the kids calmed down and I drove Elsie home. Her fear did not stay with the kids.

I still enjoy a good storm, summer or winter. There’s nothing like a long walk during or immediately after a harsh blizzard. There aren’t many natural phenomena that compare to the sky just before a summer storm. One item on my bucket list is to sit through a hurricane. That probably won’t happen. I’ve mentioned storms before, from the time I spent in Mott, ND.

Grandpa Guy Havelick



Grace writes:

One summer in the 40’s there was a tornado that touched down in Dawson about 17 miles to the south + west from the farm. Mom + I were at one of the neighbors to the south so we were close enough to get a good view of it without being in danger.

When it hit the coal dock where they filled the train engines with coal we could see the funnel cloud turn pitch black. It killed one man in his car, put a board right through the windshield and through him.

About half the school house was gone. It took the brick wall + left some desks and things sitting untouched.

People got that coal dust into their skin so they looked like negroes. It was bad on a small scale but not much in comparison to this hurricane Andrew that went through Florida and Louisiana in August of 1992. This looks nearly as bad or maybe worse than war torn countries.


Tornado in Dawson

Tornado in Dawson


2 thoughts on “Tornado in Dawson

  1. We had moved into a house on the north side of Fargo the year before the devastating tornado in June, 1957. I was not quite 5 years old, but that tornado leaves quite an impression on me to this day. We were spared, but many home were severely damaged. We actually had clothes from other people’s homes, still on their hangers, in our backyard.
    The next summer, when my father was out of town working on his master’s degree, a smaller tornado hit the area, and my mother was terrified. She evidently thought the house would collapse on us during the storm, so instead of going down to the basement for safety, we (my mother, sister and I) somehow ended up in a stranger’s car, driving around Fargo in the storm – the worst thing a person could do!
    My husband has always wanted to see a tornado in action, first hand. I prefer the basement.


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