Parker Dam State Park Tornado & 1985 Tornado Outbreak

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ALTOONA, Pa (WTAJ)- Speaking of tornado myths, some think major tornadoes can’t hit us here in central pa. But that’s not true. In fact, in putting together this special, we found deep in our archives that in 1985, Pennsylvania saw its worst tornado outbreak to date. In our reporting, we spoke with five individuals whose lives were changed when a violent f-4 tornado ripped through parker dam state park.

It was just before 8 pm on the night of May 31st. Howard Hunt and his two sons and another father and his son planned on staying in a civilian conservation corp cabin but didn’t expect that cabin to become their storm shelter that night.

Here is what one of the fathers had to say about that terrifying night ten years later, 1995.

“the youngest one is ugh, we caught him, I caught him by one arm and his dad by the other arm, and he was literally flapping in the air.”

That kid was ken hunt, who was seven years old at that time. 

“It sounded like a bunch of freight trains is coming at you. It was loud; you couldn’t hear anything at all.” reporter was it’s scary? ken “yes, it was scary.”

Luckily everyone in that cabin walked away relatively unhurt.

The tornado ran from Penfield to just north of lock haven a total of 60 miles in 90 minutes. It had a width from 300 yards to 1.5 miles and a top wind speed of 250 mph.

Stand up outro: the parker dam tornado was just 1 of 20 tornados that touched down in pa on that day.. 4 of them had a strength of an f0-f1, 8 of an f2-f3, and the remaining 8 had a strength of an f-4-5. 64 Pennsylvania lost their lives that day.

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