My natural disaster was the F4 tornado that hit Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on July 31, 1987, which I selected because a tornado that far north is not very common. July 31, 1987 is better known as Black Friday in Edmonton, as this was the largest tornado to ever hit Edmonton, and the second deadliest in Canadian history. It produced softball sized hail, flooding, and fires. According to the CBC, “The July 31, 1987, Edmonton tornado was the second-deadliest in Canadian history. The statistics were horrific: 27 people killed, 600 injured, 1,700 left homeless, and damage estimated at $300 million.” Edmonton is one of the two largest cities in Alberta, an oil producing province, in which Edmonton handles a lot of the “blue-collar” work involving the oil industry. This means that the population was more vulnerable than other places within the province because of their lower incomes. Within the city, the tornado struck an especially vulnerable population living in a mobile home park, which means that their homes did not hold up as well against the tornado. The CBC reported that 15 of those 27 deaths occurred within this one mobile home park.

Image result for edmonton 1987 tornado

Image Courtesy of the Edmonton Sun:

Emergency efforts were made difficult by the path that the tornado took by hitting highways and destroying bridges. The emergency crews struggled to reach people because of this, and even once people had been reached, the hospital was inaccessible. The Red Cross in Edmonton was not ready for a disaster on this scale, so it was a lot of help from neighbors, friends, and even strangers, that helped to save lives in Edmonton. Restoration was achieved quickly, with call centers and emergency centers being set up promptly. The Red Cross officially ended their operations on August 2, only 2 days after the tornado, implying that the worst was over.

Rebuilding began quickly, as many residents had to build new homes entirely, even if their homes were not completely destroyed, since the structures may not have been stable. Alberta also set up the “Emergency Alert System” soon after Black Friday. Ordinary people would help to alert Environment Canada, the national weather service, about tornadoes that they spotted. Of course, when Doppler Radar came about, this became less important. Edmonton also had a large scale media campaign in 1997 to raise awareness of tornadoes and tornado safety, in case one were to ever strike again. However, the biggest mitigation being done in Edmonton is education. In the local school handbooks it describes proper tornado procedures, which students practice; and many people who were in Edmonton for the tornado are still here sharing their stories, as we approach the 30th anniversary.


This link has an archived news broadcast from that day with footage of the devastation and interviews with local people.

Here is another news archive from CTV that has excellent footage showing the damage as well:



  1. I like the reason that you mentioned you chose this disaster, this shows that you really thought out which disaster to pick and why. I also like that you chose Canada because you wouldn’t expect a tornado up there so it is startling and makes me broaden my view of where tornado’s happen and how unpredictable they can be, especially because this one is out of the country. I also like that you included the statistics, it backs up your claims and makes the paper sound more professional. Focusing on what Edmonton produces and the type of workers highlights the important fact that the income there makes a difference, with lower incomes being effect worse. Including the video was helpful because it draws in the reader and provides an accurate summary of the event, further concreting your evidence.

  2. The devestation that was caused by this tornado does not seem hugely imporbable, yet the occurance of an event like this at all seems to be a one-in-a-million chance. The softball-sized hail described seems deadly all on its own, but factoring in the lack of preperation in the community, it is easy to see how this twister was one of the deadliest. One of the more interesting things in this case was the fact that there was no existing emergency storm warning system, which could be expected in underdeveloped countries, but Canada was not one of those. Nevertheless, the increase in tornado awareness is a positive change, along with all the steps taken in regards to emergency response. One last thing that stood out to me was that Edmonton recovered quickly, which I find to be interesting due to the level of destruction, but I suppose when factoring in that many homes detroyed were trailers, it starts to become reasonable. Overall, a very informative summary and great usage of that video.

Comments are closed.