Tornado Half Mile From My House

I lost internet, but friends lost their house

Shefali O'Hara
4 min readMar 24, 2022


A tornado came down half a mile from my house near Austin, Texas, around 5:30 pm on Monday, March 21st. There were also hailstones about an inch and a half wide falling in some parts of Central Texas.

I’d seen the storm warnings from earlier that day so I made sure everyone, including my cat, were inside. Later, my phone buzzed to give me a tornado warning. I wasn’t too nervous.

You see, I’d lived in Wichita Falls over a decade ago. That is part of Tornado Alley, a loosely defined corridor that encompasses northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas (where a twister picked up Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz), Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota.

There was a siren on a tower near my home in Wichita Falls that would blare to warn of an imminent tornado. This was a necessary precaution. The worst tornado in Texas history (and one of the 5 worst in the United States) hit Wichita Falls in 1979. This tornado had several vortices, some of which were over a mile in diameter at times.

42 people died. There was $400 million in property damage, including over 3,000 homes, and 20,000 were left homeless. Despite the destruction, the town rebuilt and was back to normal by 1981.

The oddest tornado story I heard from locals was of a local man sucked into a vortex in 1964. He claimed there was a trailer spinning above him with a woman in the doorway. He lost consciousness and woke up in the hospital.

My own experience was far more pedestrian. I looked out my 2nd story window and saw a small twister spinning through the parking lot.

The tornado that touched down north of Austin on the 21st damaged several homes, including the one shown in the photo at the top. Here is another photo:

Different view of house destroyed by tornado

I was very fortunate.

The tornado destroyed many roofs. Because of the rain and hail, the interiors were often destroyed. The family that owned the house shown above is now homeless. Fortunately church members are helping — the pastor opened her house to them and others in the church are providing what they can, including clothes.



Shefali O'Hara

Cancer survivor, writer, engineer. BSEE from MIT, MSEE, and MA in history. Love nature, animals, books, art, and interesting discussions.