1963 - TORNADO IN ST. MARY'S.
St. Mary's, Pa. (UPI) - The two men pulled their car off the highway to watch the storm clouds gather.
"Suddenly we saw the twister," explained Tom Hauber. "It looked to be about 15 feet wide at the bottom and about 100 feet across the top. It lasted about 5 to 10 minutes, tearing up everything in its path."
Hauber, a radio announcer, and John Mishock, an engineer, were returning to their studio Tuesday when a tornado bore down on this small northwestern Pennsylvania community, causing more than $1 million damage.
The twister damaged between 100 and 150 homes and garages, including 20 trailer homes, turned a moving tractor-trailer around in the air four times, splintered countless utility poles, downed power lines and uprooted trees.
Less than 20 persons required hospital treatment. Only four were hospitalized, the most serious suffering from a fractured leg.
"Fortunately," said State Police Sgt. Joseph Hugar, "the kids were in school, the men were working and the mothers were indoors because of the rain. Otherwise there's no telling how many would have been hurt or killed."
The tornado struck at about 2:30 p.m. EDT. Schools in St. Mary's are dismissed at 3 p.m. EDT and most industries end their working day at 3:30 p.m. EDT.
The capricious twister erupted in a heavy rainstorm near the state police barracks outside Ridgeway, 11 miles west of here.
Trooper Leslie Stilwell was one of the first to sight the funnel. He said it churned across the Clarion River, carrying a quantity of water, skirted the barracks and roared onto the highway where it bounced several moving cars into the air. Trees in the area were uprooted and Stilwell said they were stacked 10 feet high.
Then, Stilwell said, the tornado boiled across mountainous timberland toward St. Mary's cutting a huge swath on its way.
The Valley Independent
September 4, 1963
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