By John Lauritsen

TRACY, Minn. (WCCO) — Only two F5 tornadoes have ever been recorded in Minnesota history.

One of them happened 50 years ago this month.

On June 13, 1968, a tornado ripped through the town of Tracy, killing nine people and injuring 150 others.

“No one was mowing, trimming the hedge or walking the dog,” said Scott Thoma.

What Thoma remembers about that day was how hot and humid it was. But around 7 p.m. that evening, clear skies gave way to something far more threatening.

“It didn’t get eerie until that night when the sky turned green. I had never seen that and I’ve still never seen that. Everybody says it sounds like a train and it did,” said Thoma. “Our house got turned off the foundation. It got twisted. The main structure got twisted up pretty good.”

Thoma’s house is long gone and was never rebuilt, but pictures and memories remain. A memorial honors the nine people killed that day. The youngest was 2-year-old Nancy Vlahos.

“She missed out on life. You don’t know what she would’ve become. This happened and I think about her all the time. Really, a lot about her,” said Thoma.

Thoma also remembers how Tracy came together as a town, and recovered. That’s something he hopes the city never forgets.

“I can still remember that sound. I don’t remember what I had for breakfast but that stays with you,” said Thoma.

Tracy will hold several events on Saturday to commemorate the tornado. Nine balloons will be released at Central Park to honor the nine people killed.

Thoma wrote a book about how the tornado impacted Tracy. It is called, “Out of the Blue.”


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