From his hillside acreage in Leduc County, Tom Taylor was the first person to report the Edmonton tornado.
Thirty years later, he still can’t believe the destruction it caused.
The tornado on July 31, 1987 that killed 27 people, injured 600, left hundreds more homeless and did $300 million in damage, started as a small translucent funnel about a mile from Taylor’s house, south of Edmonton.
The funnel lasted 10 seconds before the formation moved over his house.
“I could hear the shingles making a noise,” Taylor told CBC News. “I could hear clunking on the roof. I guess I didn’t realize the significance of what I was seeing and how deadly they could be.”
Taylor called the weather office at 2:48 p.m. to report what he believed to be a tornado, though he’d never seen one before.
Environment Canada meteorologist Brian Proctor confirmed the chain of events.
“It initially touched down in Leduc county as a very thin rope tornado, moved over the weather watcher who initially reported it,” Proctor said.
Taylor went to the loft of his house where he had an elevated view of the maelstrom ripping across the city.
“As I watched to the northeast, towards Beaumont, the belly of the cloud slumped down and it spit out a huge funnel, much larger,” he said. “It was dense. You couldn’t see through it.”
Twelve people died in an industrial area in east Edmonton and Strathcona County, and as the storm moved north 15 people more were killed in the Evergreen Mobile Home Park.
‘The Edmonton tornado looked like a monster.’
– former University of Alberta professor, Edward Lozowski
“Every once in awhile, it hit a building,” Taylor recalled. “I could tell because there was an explosion of debris all around the base of the funnel that was on the ground.”
With hail stones as large as tennis balls and a funnel base a…