MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Fifty years ago this Wednesday, the Twin Cities were ravaged by a series of tornadoes that struck the northwestern metro area. No fewer than six tornadoes touched down as the storm system moved through, some of them on the ground simultaneously.

Of those tornadoes, scientists have said that four were estimated to be F4 funnels on the Fujita scale.

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Thirteen people were killed, and thousands of homes were damaged if not totally destroyed.

WCCO Radio was on throughout that disastrous evening, and we have pulled some of the most memorable moments from that broadcast below. Many have said that the work of WCCO’s announcers that night — including Dick Chapman, Chuck Lilligren and Charlie Boone — helped saving countless lives.

“My prize possession is a torn piece of paper from a grocery bag with a message printed in crayon that said: ‘Dear WCCO Radio, Thank you for saving our lives,’” Chapman later said. “It was signed by nine Cub Scouts who survived in a school basement while the funnel demolished the building over their heads.”

That year, Chapman swept broadcast journalism’s top three awards — the Society of Professional Journalists Award, the Dupont Award and the Peabody Award. It’s the only time that feat has ever been accomplished.



Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

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Part 7



Tornado Over Caller’s House in Hopkins

Appeal for Doctors in Anoka County

Early Reports With Dick Chapman

Airplanes Destroyed in Anoka

Chuck Lilligren Reports in Spring Lake Park

First Report of Injuries in Fridley

Home Carried Away in Spring Lake Park

Caller Reports Tornado in Columbia Heights

Chuck Lilligren Reports on Damage in Fridley


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