Fifty years ago on Thursday, May 6, 1965 the worst tornadoes in Twin Cities history struck the western and northern metro area. There were five tornadoes in the metro area, with another tornado just to the west in Sibley and McLeod Counties. The first tornado to touch down was at 6:08pm in Carver County and the final tornado lifted off at 9:02pm in southern Anoka County. Four of the tornadoes were rated F4 on the Fujita Scale, one was an F3 and another was an F2. There hasn't been a day since in Minnesota when there were four F4 tornadoes in a single day.
Thirteen people were killed and 683 were injured. There was one death in Sibley County, three deaths in both Carver and Anoka County, and six in Hennepin County. Some of the places that were hardest hit were Chanhassen, Deephaven, Fridley, Mounds View and Spring Lake Park. Rural Sibley and Carver County was also hard hit.
In May 1965, the National Weather Service was located on the third floor the old Wold-Chamberlain Terminal Building at the Twin Cities International Airport. The weather map at Noon on May 6th had a stationary front across Minnesota with a strong area of low pressure over Lake Winnipeg. A weaker area of low pressure was along this front over Nebraska. The day was muggy for early May with dew point temperatures in the mid 60's with winds gusting from the south to 30mph by 1030am. By 5:30pm thunderstorms were observed developing in the southwest sky from the airport. At 6:34pm a tornado was reported at Chanhassen by a Hennepin County Sheriff's Deputy. A button at the Weather Bureau was pressed and for the first time the Civil Defense Bell and Light Air Raid Warning sirens were sounded across the Twin Cities because of the tornadoes.
There were close ties with the Weather Bureau and commercial radio and television announcers, especially with WCCO-AM. In fact, WCCO-AM was credited with its cooperation with the Weather Bureau to provide information to citizens. The WCCO-AM announcers included Charlie Boone, Dick Chapman and others who ran coverage of the tornadoes beginning at 7:10pm. Radiotapes.com has audio from WCCO-AM coverage. In addition, law enforcement spotters and even a pilot notified the Weather Bureau of tornadoes on the ground.
Over 600 homes were destroyed in the tornado outbreak, including 425 in Fridley alone. In one trailer park, 200 trailers were destroyed. 1,700 people were homeless. There were only two deaths in Fridley, a testament to the warnings that gave people time to find shelter.
Web Sites with 1965 Tornado Information