Tornadoes

Residents of Apollo do not expect to experience tornadoes.  We are under the impression that the hills surrounding our small town will protect us.  In the summer of 1980, we learned otherwise.  On June 3, 1980, nine tornadoes ripped through four counties in Western Pennsylvania, leaving a 50-mile-long trail of damage. In the Edgewood Estates Trailer Park in Apollo, 77 trailers were destroyed and 46 were damaged. According to John O’Donnell from the Valley News Dispatch, this tornado happened because  “in a small area just off the western edge of Lake Erie, something unusual in the weather pattern happened.  Cold dry air from Canada converged with the warm moist air from the south.  What made this a problem was the presence of a high energy jet stream in the area.  Combined, this made a volatile atmospheric mixture.”  This moving air turned into a tornado that struck the Kiski Valley, as well as other places in Western Pennsylvania and surrounding states.

Looking back, the morning of June 3 was beautiful.  Bad weather was not expected.  After going through Natrona Heights, Melwood Manor, and Vandergrift, the tornado followed the river through North Apollo, then along Sugar Hollow Road to Edgewood Estates.  The park was the most devastated part of the storm’s path. The storm became an F4 with a path over 300 ft. wide when it hit there.

After the tornado had passed, the shock of what had happened began to set in.  The Valley News Dispatch reported  on June 4, “As many as 150 people are homeless today.  More than 100 people were injured, seven seriously, and damages are unofficially estimated at more than $6 million.  In the Edgewood Estates mobile home park 123 families were left homeless.  The loss there is estimated at $3 million.”

People immediately began to rebuild with help from FEMA and insurance money.  Over thirty years later the Edgewood Estates are now known as Pine Valley Estates with a thriving population.

9 thoughts on “Tornadoes

  1. Ralph Schwindt May 27, 2019 — 6:24 pm

    I Lived There when the Tornado Hit.
    My Trailer was one of the Survivors of the Storm.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read the attached Historical account and I believe there may be an error. The tornado went through Moreland Manor. It took the roof off of a house in Meadowbrook, the plan adjacent to Moreland Manor. I’m not aware that it did damage to Melwood Manor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it completely razed one home in Melwood Manor. A couple and their baby were in the house. Then went on toward Vandergrift, I think. I saw it coming, and was quite scared of tornados for many years. Had nightmares until I was an adult. Now, I’m down in NC, with tornado and hurricane warnings all the time, so I had to get used to it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the info, Jen. That would have been quite a scary experience.

        Like

    2. The tornado did go through Moreland Manor as well as Melwood. I had an Aunt and Uncle who lived in Moreland Manor at the time of the tornado and their neighbor’s above ground pool was picked up and put on top of my Aunt & Uncle’s CB arial antenna. Also, my father was working in the NBOC in the Allegheny Plaza and was talking with me on the phone when the tornado ripped the roof off of the Kiski High School gymnasium.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I lived in Edgewood Estates and was there when the tornado hit. I had recently completed 8th grade and was ready for a fun summer. My sister and I had just made some lunch when our neighbors came and got us because they saw it coming and we got in their car. Luckily for us it crossed to the other side of the street right before it hit us so our trailer had little damage except broken windows. I still worry whenever a big storm hits in May or June.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, Bryan. That would have been traumatizing. Thanks for your recollections.

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  4. A day our family will never forget. We lived in Edgewood Estates and lost everything. We are lucky to have lived through it-scariest thing I had ever experienced. I was 9 years old and injured and they were just tossing us in vehicles to go get medical attention. Our whole family was separated and at that age I thought I’d never see my family again. We were homeless for many months. My sister and I hardly have any childhood photos as they were destroyed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, Lisa…that would be very frightening. Thanks for sharing your memories.

      Like

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