Notes: Photo and texts were
originally published in October / November 1987 and February / March
1988 editions of Zephyr.
Mr. Taylor became a Volunteer Weather Watcher following the Edmonton Tornado.
In recognition of his work in promptly reporting last July's Edmonton Tornado, Environment Canada volunteer weather watcher Tom Taylor receives a personal letter of appreciation handed to him by Environment minister Tom McMillan when the latter visited Edmonton on November 26, 1987.
For more on Mr. Taylor's exploits please see the article in the October-November 1987 issue of Zephyr, reprinted on the right.
Tom Taylor, Tornado Hero
One of the heroes of the Edmonton tornado was Tom Taylor, a pharmacist from Leduc, Alberta about 24 km southeast of the afflicted city. Mr. Taylor had just come in from feeding his black retrievers in the kennel outside when he saw thick black rain clouds over his house. For fifteen seconds from the Ioft of his house which stands on an archeological site high on a hill, he saw a low hanging cloud to the southwest with a "snake-like" funnel pointing towards the ground. At the same time high winds were kicking up debris. Taylor, trained to be observant in his job (he sometimes files narcotics reports for the police), picked up the phone and called the Alberta Weather Centre informing them "things are pretty hectic right now". He told them that the cloud's funnel had just hit the ground. The time was approximately 2:55 pm. The Weather Centre, which had been expecting severe weather, immediately put out a tornado warning. Half an hour later, the full fury of the tornado pounded one of Edmonton's principal industrial districts.
Mr. Taylor spent most of his time in the Ioft. He didn't have time to head for the basement. But if he had to do it all over again he would have used the below ground extension phone. His wife and children were in Edmonton. They felt the full force of the tornado. Little did they know that Mr. Taylor had been the very first person to spot the tornado and report it promptly to the Weather Centre.
Naturally AES staff were delighted with Mr. Taylor's prompt action. Says AES Western Region director Brian O'Donnell: "It was on the basis of Mr. Taylor's report that the tornado warning was issued for Edmonton. His quick action resulted in more warning time for the citizens of the city." Mr. Taylor has now agreed to become a volunteer under AES's severe weather watch program.
Taylor says he has been interested in weather since he was a child. He has a close friend who works with the Alberta Hail Program. He listens to weather forecasts at least three times a day and has a Weatheradio Canada receiver. "I'm a country person. Call me a farmer with a weather eye if you wish".
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