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.

Thanks to Scott Palmo and his book “Twisted Fury” for the information.

Request: Scott Palmo, author of Twisted Fury is looking for the photo of the angel cloud over Edgewood Estates after the tornado. He is also reprinting his book & would love to include more stories. If you can help him, here’s his contact information: or 803-983-6576 or check out his fb page

13 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. Paula Durkin May 27, 2019 / 9:53 pm

    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

    • Jen June 5, 2019 / 11:07 pm

      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

    • Ed G. Knight November 22, 2019 / 8:25 pm

      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. Bryan Busch May 29, 2019 / 8:22 am

    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

    • apollopahistory May 29, 2019 / 8:41 am

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


  4. Lisa Ansell May 29, 2019 / 9:51 am

    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

  5. Mark Rago June 24, 2020 / 8:53 pm

    My mom was pregnant with me when this happened. Drove through N Apollo. By the time she got to Washington Twp, my grandmother informed her a tornado jumped the river at top of hill and flattened garage next to where Shop n Save now stands. It was sunny when she drove through. We’re talking like 5 minutes. Crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. david johnston December 7, 2021 / 12:17 pm

    think i remember this one , i live in edmon pa well not to far from apollo pa but i don’t like these tornadoes . weve had micro bursts but nothing to serious.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Bonnie E Morales April 19, 2023 / 11:57 am

    I live at Edgewood Trailer Park, we lost everything, it hit on my 22nd birthday, 10 days later my son was born on Friday the 13th, he still blames me for all his bad luck, I was black and blue head to toe and 18 stiches in my leg, giving natural birth 10 days later to a 9lb,13oz baby was not easy. I am thankful to be alive the trailer behind me was wrapped around a tree about 8 feet up. I am very frightened still to this day when the air takes a calming time and fearful of every going through something like this again, It haunts my memories

    Liked by 1 person

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