The Hero of Ruskin Heights

This photograph pleases me greatly. It is Joe Audsley, the hero of the the Ruskin Heights Tornado, with his copy of Warnings. 

On May 20, 1957, Joe issued a series of messages as the tornado approached Kansas City that, for the first time, put the Weather Bureau in the tornado warning business* as we think of “warnings” today.  The Weather Bureau had regulations that forbade its people of warning of tornadoes. Joe’s messages saved lives and the Bureau’s ban on tornado warnings crumbled.

The photo was taken by our mutual friend Dick Williams who arranged to get the very first autographed copy of the book to Joe.

* In 1957, the Weather Bureau’s Severe Local Storms Unit (SELS) issued tornado watches, but they were called tornado “warnings” at that time.  Today’s “watch/warning” terminology began in the 1960′s.

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