Terrible Tuesday - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Terrible Tuesday

Posted: Updated:

On April 10th, 1979 Texomans experienced a devastating tornado. That day will forever be known as Terrible Tuesday. Thirty four years later survivors still remember what they were doing that day, when the sky turned black.

Ann Crawford was shopping for an Easter basket with her two children. She said the weather report called for rain; the wind was picking up and she wanted to get home. "When we got in the car and headed out toward 79 I looked and I could see this big black tornado behind me. The biggest one I had ever seen", she said.

The tornado an F-4 in strength was over a mile wide. Ann and the kids were at Southmoor Shopping Center. She raced home with the tornado in her rearview. "It seemed like it took hours to get there. But I remember I couldn't let the kids look out the back window. Whatever I had to do, to let the kids not see it," Ann said.

She got home in record time, 11 minutes for what is usually a 20 minute ride, back to Petrolia. She dashed in the house and yelled to her husband a tornado is coming. Ann said, "I looked and the TV was on Channel Six and it said that, the guy was on there and he said, if you're not at safety already it's too late, it's here. And then Channel Six went off the air."

The tornado didn't touch down in Petrolia but the uncertainty of what happened in Wichita Falls was almost too much to bear. Ann and her family watched the news. The anchor said they'd sent a crew to the Falls. Unable to reach them and not hearing back they sent another crew, an hour later. They hadn't heard back from them either.  Then the anchor said "We don't know if Wichita had been wiped completely off the map. We don't know of there's any survivors, we don't know how bad anything is, we don't know if it's no one hurt. We just know it is bad, and don't go there if you don't have to," Ann recalled.

The tornado claimed the lives on 42 people in Wichita Falls on that Terrible Tuesday. Ann said, "I don't know anybody in Wichita that, that tornado didn't effect. In some way." The Southmoor Shopping Center was leveled by that tornado. The experience left Ann stunned as she watched the devastation with her family that night.

Jenyne Donaldson, Newschannel Six.