View Full Version : Has a human being ever "ridden" a tornado and survived?

10-29-2001, 09:20 PM
Are there any documented cases of a person or persons, having been sucked up into the funnel of a twister, being carried quite a good distance, and surviving?

Specifically: I would be very interested in accounts of a person "riding" a twister, and remaining fully conscious throughout the whole ordeal and surviving.

10-29-2001, 11:13 PM
The closest I could find on Google was from this site (http://www.tornadoproject.com/cellar/tttttttt.htm):

Has anyone ever gotten lifted up and carried a ways?


How far?

The longest distance is about a mile.

Did they live or not?

The man died shortly after rescuers found him. This happened on May 1, 1930, in Kansas.

10-29-2001, 11:19 PM
Does Pecos Bill count?

10-29-2001, 11:21 PM
There is a fairly well known (though quite possibly a UL) story of a woman carried a great distance by a tornado. It's well known because when she landed, she discovered she had been deposited right next to a 45 of the single Stormy Weather. Sounds unlikely, but certainly possible. I did a quick search on Google for this, but didn't come up with anything. I haven't checked Snopes yet.

10-29-2001, 11:29 PM
Here's a reference to the Stormy Weather story (along with a couple of other tornado ride stories):


Still, I can't guarantee these are accurate.

10-29-2001, 11:50 PM
I've heard of people being thrown a little ways and living... watch some of the shows on tornadoes where they interview people who were caught in them. It's probably happened at some time, but documented cases would be harder to find... after all, do we generally beleive wild stories people tell us, let alone one from someone who lives in a trailer park who has no witnesses? But, if there is a guy who's been struck more than half a dozen (http://www.cangeo.ca/JA00/lightning/nuts_bolts.html) times by lightning and lived, I'm sure someone has been blown a few feet by the wind and lived through it at some point in history.

Badtz Maru
10-30-2001, 03:59 AM
My cousin Jeff was carried several hundred yards, he suffered a broken collarbone and a bunch of infections from all the debris blown into his flesh.

10-30-2001, 05:09 AM
I saw a first-person account of a person who had been riding in a car when a twister caught them. One man was sucked out of the car, but the other lived although he was pretty severely injured.

10-30-2001, 05:46 AM
Twice now, I've read the thread title as "Has a human being ever "ridden" a tomato and survived?" I get a mental image of a bustling rodeo, with brave but foolish young cowboys attempting to tame the untamable and deadly tomato. One by one, they're gored to death. Yee-haw!

10-30-2001, 08:20 AM
My wife has told me a story several times of an infant supposedly picked-up by a tornado and deposited a mile or so away totally unharmed (physically).

I have no cite for this and my wife, although a fairly credible person, can hardly count as 100% reliable in this case. I'll ask her for more info and see if I can dig up a cite.

Payne N. Diaz
10-30-2001, 11:55 AM
There was an article in Reader's Digest a year or two ago abiut a pair of tornadoes that hit in TN, and they quote accounts of people's houses exploding around them, and riding a bathtub up, up, and away. I don't know how far they went, but they came down in the same neighborhood, so it couldn't have been too far.

10-30-2001, 12:09 PM
Roy Sullivan, the Park Ranger who was struck by lightning seven times, lived and worked in the mountains of VA in Luray. He was on The Tonight Show once and told Johnny Carson that God had come to him in a dream and told him why he was struck so often. Sullivan refused to tell the reason, and it died with him when he killed himself several years ago. He did so by electrocuting himself.

Not really. He did kill himself, but I have no idea how.

10-30-2001, 01:20 PM
Originally posted by Erroneous
Twice now, I've read the thread title as "Has a human being ever "ridden" a tomato and survived?" I get a mental image of a bustling rodeo, with brave but foolish young cowboys attempting to tame the untamable and deadly tomato. One by one, they're gored to death. Yee-haw!

Damn, that is EXACTLY how I read the title... scarey

10-30-2001, 02:56 PM
Hardly a scientific answer, but I remember a story like this from "These Happy Golden Years" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. According to her, the stories she wrote were all based on truth, so take that for what it's worth. This would have taken place in South Dakota, near De Smet, sometime between 1880 and 1885. (Disclaimer--I'm going to repeat this story from memory, since I don't have the book in front of me.)

Apparently, two boys had ridden out from their farm on two donkeys to take *something* into town. The storm hit while they were still out, and when it was over everyone in the countryside went looking for them. Eventually, one of the boys found his way home. He was completely naked. He and his brother had been riding the donkeys hard, trying to outrun the storm when the tornado picked all four of them up. The boy yelled to his brother to hold on to the harness, but a few seconds later he was torn from his own donkey. He blacked out at this point. Next thing he remembered, he was floating in empty air, falling to earth slowly. He hit the ground running, with not a stitch on. I remember this part especially because Wilder made a point of how they couldn't figure out how the clothes came off, even the lace-up boots, without bruising or marking the boy in any way.

Wilder goes on to say that they finally did find the other boy and the two donkeys. They were found together, the boy naked, the donkeys stripped of their harnesses, with every bone in their bodies broken.

Wilder also relates the story of a man whose house was completely wiped off the face of the earth in this same storm. A few hours later, they notice a dark spot in the sky. Something falling towards them. Closer and closer, and then it hits. It was the door to the farm house, and it fell exactly where it had originally been. This was hours after the storm had come and gone.

Weird stuff.

10-30-2001, 06:54 PM
I heard this story from my grandmother, mother and aunt, often, independently of each other, and over many years.

They were driving out of Pontiac, Illinois in 1944 and spotted a tornado up ahead. They stopped their car and another car, about a mile in front, stopped as well.
The tornado picked up the car in front of them, turned it around, and then gently put it back on the road in exactly the opposite direction.
Neither the driver or the woman in that car were hurt, but both were shaken up when my grandmother drove up to see how they were.

Not exactly bronco-riding the winds, but freaky nonetheless.

Michael Ellis
10-30-2001, 07:17 PM
My mother once told me about a distant relative who knew someone picked up by a tornado on the US side of the St. Lawrence and dumped over on the Canadian side.

Also, my father was on one of the ships that picked up to Jetskiers trying to trek from San Diego to Catalina Island. These idiots later were submitted for a Darwin Award.

10-30-2001, 07:50 PM
Whack-A-Mole, I think I heard that same story and I think it happened within the last few years. A family was crowded into a closet for safety and the baby (I think it was a year old or so) was ripped out of the parents' arms by the force of the wind as the house blew up around them. The child was later found--and as wild as this may sound, I think s/he was even found in a tree. But alive. I know I read this.

10-30-2001, 07:53 PM
Here we go. Didn't have it quite right (no tree). Second to the last paragraph:


Caracticus Potts
10-31-2001, 01:05 AM
Most of the people who find themselves flying around the inside of a tornado only live if a UFO plucks them out of the air, does experiments on them, then leaves them on a rural road.

At least that's what they say. ;)

10-31-2001, 05:02 AM
Surviving a tornado is written about by David Foster Wallace (he got lifted up, spun around and smacked into a fence) in the first chapter of his highly recommended book "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again".

11-02-2001, 08:55 PM
Pardon me for taking so long to reply to the replies.

Thak you for all of the references and links.

11-02-2001, 09:34 PM
Not really an answer to your question MSK, but sort of related - an anecdote about how close you can be and not be affected.

In 1980 a weather system associated with (IIRC) Hurricane Allen herded some weird weather up around Austin, Texas, where I was going to school. One night, or I should say morning after a night of partying, several friends and I pulled into the driveway of my house at ~5:30 and tumbled out of the car onto the driveway. Loaded as we were (and several including myself noted later that our conversation seemed "hushed" in the sense that it is when you're on an airliner and your ears haven't popped yet), we noted the odd sky - it was still night, but starting to get light, and rainy, etc., when...

The end apartment of the apartment house that backed up to my backyard - FW-BOOM! - exploded!


We were agog.

Or a' grog.

It would be terribly difficult, and probably impossible, to describe the next minute. I think I had some brief thought about a natural gas accident before we saw some odd lumber and debris fly by and only as it moved away from us were we able to discern the shape of the visiting vandalous weather body and realize that a tornado had just traveled down the next street over (maybe what? 40-50 yards away?).

05-22-2013, 02:00 PM
I have heard crazy stories about this Flint tornado of 53. Here is the story.


One woman sick in bed saw the roof of her house collapse and threw her hands over her eyes. The next thing she knew she was in a field 100 yards away, still in bed. A purse lay on the bed beside her.




05-22-2013, 02:08 PM

Yvonne Herron
On June 8, 1953, I was seventeen and had graduated from Beecher High School the preceding week. I still remember vividly certain images from that day.

My father coming in from the front porch, describing clouds moving, seeming to stop, and reversing direcion, his saying we should go to the basement.

Looking out a west window and seeing the top of a good sized tree bent to the ground.

Coming up the stairs from the basement and there was nothing above ground but debris.. no house, no trees, no neighbors' houses.

Seeing an elderly neighbor still in her bed but her house was gone and the bed was in the middle of the street.

Going with some others into the next door basement to try to help the neighbor trapped by a beam.

05-22-2013, 02:39 PM
In contrast to all those stories of people being carried away by tornadoes and living, I've read the opposite: That a tornado would rip your skin off your body before it would pick you up.

Well, at least I think I recall reading something like that about cows: It would rip their skin off before picking them up. But cows are heavier than people of course.

05-22-2013, 02:46 PM
zombie or no

babies fly farther.

05-22-2013, 02:59 PM
Kansas. A girl named Dorothy.

05-24-2013, 12:26 AM
I distinctly remember seeing a documentary or some such thing that showed cows and harvesting machinery being flung about in a twister but the people in the vicinity (someone named Hunt IIRC) were able to survive by hanging on to pieces of a fence.

05-24-2013, 08:58 AM
Matt Suter of Fordland, Missouri on March 12, 2006 was carried one-quarter mile.

Si Amigo
05-24-2013, 09:37 AM
A zombie thread was carried 12 years into the future by a tornado discussion! Does that count?

05-24-2013, 10:25 AM
July 10, 1980 my brother was picked up and carried a short distance by a tornado that hit near Unicoi, TN. He was carried about 200 yards and suffered no injuries. Several others who were at the camp that was hit did suffer injuries.

Darth Panda
05-24-2013, 11:07 AM
Sounds like a scene from Debbie Does Oklahoma.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.