50 Years Later, A Look Back at 1964 Twister - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

50 Years Later, A Look Back at 1964 Twister

50 Years Later, A Look Back at 1964 Twister

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 It's been 50 years since an  F5 tornado ripped through parts of Wichita Falls and Sheppard Air Force Base. 
         7 people were killed, and hundreds of homes destroyed on that Friday back in 1964. 
    In a bold and brave move, Newschannel 6 put that deadly storm live on the air, making KAUZ one of the first television stations to ever do so. 
         Storms were forecasted for April 3, 1964, so when the first severe weather alert came across the Newschannel 6 weather desk, the team rolled into action. Part of that team was cameraman Carl Nichols. 
         He ended up taking a studio camera out back with weatherman Dee Fletcher in hopes of giving viewers at home a closer look at a growing storm, but it didn't take long to see things were quickly escalating. 
         "It kept coming and coming and then it jumped the station," said Nichols.
         Nichols ran through the building with the camera and joined another studio camera that had already been wheeled out front giving viewers a pretty good look at the deadly twister. 
         Two highly populated areas were hit: Lincoln Heights and Sunset Terrace.  
         The funnel then moved away from Wichita Falls proper and moved towards Sheppard Air Force Base. 
         The Newschannel 6 News Director at the time was out reporting damage, while the weather team back at the station watched the funnel shift into a picture perfect tornado. 
         "I never gave it that much thought going through it, but I looked back over the years and realized we were fortunate. If it would have stayed on the ground it would have wiped Channel 6 out, it was on the ground coming right at us," said Nichols. 
         But that wasn't the last time a tornado would devastate the Wichita Falls area. 
          Carl and his wife weren't living in the Falls when the 1979 tornado hit, but had family living in town. 
         So when he heard about the storm, memories from the 1964 twister flooded his mind. 
         "Having lived through that one in 1964 we knew what had happened and what could happed. It caused us to be panicky," said Nichols. Thankfully, his family escaped harm.    
        But with each disaster, Carl says it's how people respond after, that blows him away. 
         "There are a lot of positives about living in Wichita Falls. The bond they have with one another and how they pull together when things happen. I think it's phenomenal." said Nichols. 

Ashley Fitzwater, Newschannel 6