Night of the Twisters Anniversary
Grand Island, Neb. — It’s the 40th anniversary of the Grand Island tornadoes. The 1980 event, also known as the Night of the Twisters, produced a series of 7 destructive tornadoes that impacted the city for many years. The June 3, 1980 tornadoes killed five people and injured 200. While the Grand Island tornado outbreak is best known for the twisters that struck Grand Island on June 3, the outbreak as a whole produced 18 tornadoes across two days, and caused severe damage as far east as Pennsylvania.
Over a span of three hours that evening, a slow-moving supercell complex moving across Grand Island spawned several tornadoes. The supercells moved over the city at only 8 miles per hour.
475 living units and 49 businesses were destroyed, with a total damage of nearly 300 million dollars. Also of note, three of the tornadoes rotated anti-cyclonically, or clockwise, a rare occasion in the northern hemisphere, where over 99 percent of tornadoes rotate cyclonically, or counter-clockwise.
Tornado warnings allowed people to get to safety in time, which prevented a higher death toll. The South Locust Street area in Grand Island was hardest hit, struck by the fifth tornado of the night (an F4 tornado). Much of the rubble and debris left by the tornadoes was placed in a landfill that became Tornado Hill, a popular biking and sledding spot in Grand Island.