In this Funnel Feature, we are looking into the “twisted” side of twisters. And no, we are not talking about toothpicks driven through a tree, or feathers being plucked off a chicken. This feature is going to delve into the realm of the unknown. 

We are going to report what happened, and in some cases, we will try to debunk the odd occurrences if we can. This summary also includes an interview with Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) State Section Director James Krug. He will give his analysis on some of these events.

The Extraterrestrial section will discuss UFO sightings that have been reported before, during, and after tornadoes. UFO stands for Unidentified Flying Object. If you look up and see something flying in the sky, and you cannot identify what you’re seeing, it is a UFO.

The second section will explore Cryptozoological sightings. Cryptozoology is considered a pseudoscience that searches for creatures or animals whose existence is currently unproven. Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster are the most widely known cryptozoological creatures (also called cryptids).

The Paranormal section will cover ghost or ghost-like sightings before or after a tornado occurred.

Extraterrestrial

Photograph taken by the author, of the Kecksburg UFO Monument, in November 2013. On December 9, 1965, an acorn shaped UFO crashed just outside of the town of Kecksburg, PA. A replica of the UFO which was made for the TV Show, Unsolved Mysteries, is on display in the town.

The Gary England UFO

Gary England in 2010 (Wikipedia).

Many of our Tornado Talk readers are familiar with Gary England. He is a legend in the meteorological community. Gary was the chief meteorologist at KWTV (Channel 9) News in Oklahoma City for over 40 years. He began his career on October 16, 1972, and worked at Channel 9 until he retired in August 2013. On May 3, 1999, a massive F5 tornado ripped through the Oklahoma City Metro Area, causing severe damage in Bridge Creek and Moore. Gary was providing wall-to-wall coverage of the tornado. Sadly, despite the very good warnings, 36 people were killed and nearly 600 were injured. 

Bridge Creek, OK area via NWS Norman general forecaster Erin Maxwell.

During Gary’s live coverage of the tornado, a UFO was captured via the News 9 helicopter. A cylindrical tube zoomed past the camera. A second cylinder was also captured on camera shooting into the tornado. He estimated the object came out of the cloud about 10 miles from the helicopter.

It is not known what was captured on video. In 2007, Gary England appeared on the History Channel TV Show MonsterQuest on an episode called “Flying Rods.” He said “What was it doing in a thunderstorm that turned out to produce the worst tornado in history? You know that didn’t make a lot of sense.”

The video linked below shows Gary’s interview as well as the video of the UFOs zooming past the tornado. You can read our summary on the Moore Tornado here.

May 2013 Moore, OK UFOs

Map showing the 16 tornadoes that affected the Oklahoma City Metro area on May 19th, May 20th, and May 31st.

On May 19, 2013, eight tornadoes ripped through Central Oklahoma. The strongest tornado this day was an EF-4 tornado that hit the town of Shawnee, just east of Moore. One day later, on May 20, 2013, an EF-5 tornado hit Moore. Just like our previous event, this tornado was devastating to the town of Moore. Over 4000 structures were damaged or destroyed. 24 people were killed and over 200 were injured. Sadly, this included seven children at the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore. Over the course of these two days, six tornadoes affected the Oklahoma City Metro, including the two devastating tornadoes mentioned above. Tornadoes hitting Oklahoma on two consecutive days in May is not weird. The weird thing is what happened around 9:00 PM on May 18, 2013.

Photo of the May 19, 2013 Shawnee Tornado was provided courtesy of Bill Hark, via the NWS Norman Summary.
Photo of the May 20, 2013 Newcastle-South OKC-Moore EF-5 Tornado was provided courtesy of Gabe Garfield via NWS Norman Summary.

Per the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) on the evening of May 18, 2013, people witnessed eight red lights with “an eerie glow” moving through the sky around 8:45 PM. Another report was made by a separate person to NUFORC. This man reported that he and his friend were talking in the parking lot of a local school. The two men saw three amber-colored lights in a triangle formation in the eastern sky, and another amber colored light south of the others. Yet another eyewitness captured the strange lights on video (located just below) which shows the eight red lights floating across the sky. The NUFORC was not able to thoroughly investigate and try to recreate what was reported due to the tornado which had hit about 36 hours later.

On May 29, 2013, another strange UFO sighting was logged by NUFORC. This sighting occurred just a few days after the Shawnee and Moore Tornadoes. It was also just two days before the infamous May 31, El Reno EF-3 tornado. A man and his girlfriend were driving north on I-35 just south of Moore. He reported that his girlfriend said that she saw a motorcycle behind their car which disappeared. After this happened things turned creepy. Below is what was reported to the NURORC:

“After 10 years in the Marine Corps., I learned how to take detailed notes and reports, so that’s what I did when I got home. First, there was really strange lightning all around us, but no thunder, and it seemed to be far away and at a high elevation.  

Then, the lightning got lower, brighter, and closer to our car. It was so bright, it was lighting up the whole sky. But it looked different, unnatural, and was completely silent. The next thing that happened was very scary, and the craziest part of this whole sighting. The sky was filled with strange objects of different sizes and colors. My girlfriend was so freaked out she almost wrecked the car.  

There were multiple crafts with three lights in a triangle shape and red lights in the center pulsating. There were. Small, bright white circles that zigzagged through the sky. Some of the small white balls would zoom in, a big black cloud would appear, and the object would zoom away very fast. One object was really close and looked like about 5 oblong white circles right next to each other, and stoop approximately 15 feet tall. There were HUGE dim white lights that moved slowly through the sky and appeared to be 5 or 10 miles wide. There were objects that looked like thunder but had only 90-degree angles and stayed lit for about 5 seconds. There were bolts of lightning that kind of looked like jellyfish and moved slowly across the ground while they stayed lit for about 10 seconds.  

Next, the aircraft disappeared and there was a huge mushroom cloud that took up about a quarter of the sky, and a very loud but low and deafening rumble for about 10 minutes. And the wind coming from it is so strong! it almost knocked me over. Then, everything ended and was quiet. We then got back into our car and drove home.  

The next day, there were the strangest clouds I’ve ever seen, followed by a tornado warning, not sure if a tornado actually happened though, but in the same area, we were in Moore the night before. That night, we saw the same strange lightning and about 20 of the same triangle-shaped objects. They were going back and forth in the sky. I showed the neighbors and called my family. I plan on watching the sky tonight with hopes of recording them. 

I got multiple videos last night, but really only one good one. I would have recorded the events in Moore two nights ago, but we were so freaked out we didn’t even think about it. 

I have never before seen a UFO, and swear on everything I love that these statements are 100% true. I don’t know what’s going on, but I need some answers!”

On May 31, 2013, 11 tornadoes ripped through the Oklahoma City Metro Area. This included the widest tornado in United States History. It measured 2.6 miles wide and was rated EF-3. The El Reno tornado is remembered by many due to its impact on the chasing community, as sadly Tim Samaras, his son Zach, and their chase partner, Carl Young were killed when a suction vortex struck their car and threw it 600 yards into a field.

Photograph of the monstrous 2.6-mile-wide tornado taken by Jeff Snyder, via the NWS Norman summary.

So what happened over Moore, OK just 36 hours before the town was devastated by an EF-5 tornado? And eight days later, 36 hours before the El Reno EF-3 tornado? By definition, these were UFOs, as the objects were not identifiable. Were these an omen to warn of what would happen with the tornadoes? Or is it just coincidental that these were seen when they were?

November 17, 2013 Noblesville, IN UFO

On November 17, 2013, an outbreak of 74 tornadoes tore through parts of the Midwest and Ohio Valley. This included 30 tornadoes in Indiana. During the tornado outbreak, a man captured a strange object flying through a thunderstorm in Noblesville, IN. The video was recorded at about the same time as an EF-1 tornado hit the town of Atlanta, about 11 miles to the north. The object was flying against the wind.

The man who captured the video, Brandon Billeisen, appears on an episode of The Weather Channel TV Show, Twisted Believers, in 2015.  Brandon is not a UFO enthusiast nor has he ever seen anything like this before, so it was not likely that he would’ve faked the video. He captured the video on his cell phone. You can see Brandon’s interview as well as some theories about how UFOs gather energy from tornadoes by watching Twisted Believers, linked below. 

February 15, 2018 Uniontown, PA UFO

On February 15, 2018, an EF-1 tornado quickly spun up in Uniontown, PA. Nearly 100 homes were damaged or destroyed by this unwarned tornado, but thankfully no one was injured.

A woman had just left Johnny D’s Bar in Uniontown at the end of happy hour. She described seeing intense brightness followed by near-total darkness. She was swept up and carried half a block and was slammed into a wall but not injured. She felt as though this was not a tornado, but a UFO. This is clearly the easiest thing on here to debunk. A woman walking down the street after drinking at a bar was picked up by a tornado. The bright flashes she reported then the total darkness is easily explained as transformers blowing up, and then power being knocked out to the area. There is nothing unusual about this, nor does it have anything to do with aliens or UFOs.

August 9, 2019, Amsterdam UFO

On August 9, 2019, a tornado ripped through Amsterdam. Several close-up videos show the tornado as it ripped buildings apart and sent debris flying through the air (see below video). Though these videos are dramatic enough, another video taken from several miles away is what we will be talking about. 

A video uploaded to YouTube by Danny De Jong, on August 10th, 2019, shows several small orbs flying around the tornado. These seem to disappear and then reappear. It’s hard to tell what the objects are in this video. The footage is a bit grainy, so were the objects photoshopped into the video? Or was this actually a real video, and perhaps these objects were siphoning energy from the tornado, as suggested by the Twisted Believers TV show on the Weather Channel? Check out the video for yourself below. 

Cryptids

The most well known cryptid is Bigfoot, sometimes called Sasquach. The above image comes from a video of the most infamous Bigfoot sighting, known as the Patterson-Gimlin Film. Photograph via Washington Secretary of State's Office.

Mothman of Point Pleasant, WV/Cornstalk Curse

An artist's rendition of Mothman (Wikimedia Commons).

In November 1966, Mothman was first seen by the residents of Point Pleasant, WV. Witnesses reported seeing a 6-foot tall humanoid figure, that had big glowing red eyes, and large wings that look like a combination of a man and a moth. This is where we get the name “Mothman”. There was a rash of Mothman sightings in the Point Pleasant, WV area in the late 1960s, and Mothman was last seen and even allegedly photographed as recently as 2016. The most famous sighting of Mothman occurred on December 15, 1967. It was seen shortly before the Silver Bridge collapsed into the Ohio River during rush hour, killing 46 people. The Silver Bridge connected Point Pleasant to Gallipolis, OH. Many locals believe that Mothman was actually an omen, trying to warn of the impending disaster.

So what is the Cornstalk Curse and how does it have a connection to Mothman? Chief Cornstalk was a prominent leader of the Shawnee Nation. He was killed on November 10, 1777, during a diplomatic visit at Fort Randolph, in what is now Point Pleasant. He was buried at the fort. In 1840, his grave was discovered and his remains were moved to the Mason County Courthouse. The courthouse was torn down in 1954, and his remains were reburied. Legends emerged about his “dying curse” being the cause of misfortunes in the area, including Mothman.

Locals believe that the Cornstalk Curse is the reason that on June 23, 1944, an F4 tornado devastated the town of Shinnston WV. The twister killed 100 people along its 65-mile path through the mountains of Central WV, an area that doesn’t see many tornadoes. This tornado was the 15th deadliest tornado in US history.  It is also the strongest, and the deadliest tornado in WV history. You can read our summary of the Shinnston Tornado here. This is not the only tornado possibly related to the curse. On April 23, 1968, just 5 months after the Silver Bridge disaster, an F5 tornado moved from South Portsmouth KY, through Wheelersburg, OH, and into Gallipolis where it dissipated just west of Point Pleasant. Seven people were killed and over 100 were injured by this violent tornado. You can read our summary of the Wheelersburg-Gallipolis tornado, here.

"People gather along the West Fork River looking over to the hardest hit area by the tornado, Pleasant Hill, where no more than ten houses were left standing." ID: 040829. Alvarez, Ray. West Virginia History OnView.
Ohio National Guardsmen stand guard over a house that had been leveled by a tornado late 4/23 which killed 5 people in the rural Southern Ohio community.

Butterfly People of Joplin

On May 22, 2011, a devastating EF-5 tornado hit Joplin, MO. 158 people were killed, and over 1,000 were injured, making it the deadliest tornado in the United States since 1953. This violent tornado destroyed nearly 7,000 homes.

Photo of the tornado just before it struck Joplin (NWS Springfield).

Several children reported to their parents and other adults that they saw “butterfly angels” during and after the tornado. Below are some of the notable stories which Jane Huffen reported on her blog:

  • A two-year-old reported that there were butterfly people in the car with her and her dad when it was flipped over. 

  • A young boy that was in a pickup truck with his dad reported that a car was being thrown into the truck and that two angels threw the car so it wouldn’t hit them. 

  • Another girl that was seeking shelter in a ditch with her mom reported that they were
    Protected by the “beautiful rainbow wings of the angel people.”

  •  A five-year-old boy that was caught in the open said that three glowing figures with butterfly wings stood around him and shrouded him from the storm. 

  • A four-year-old boy, who was in St. John’s Hospital that was heavily damaged by the tornado, was found unharmed six miles away. He said, “the angels brought me and set me down here.” 

  • A young boy that was caught out in the open with his father said that butterfly people were hovering over them. They were not injured, however, the father’s shoes were torn off of him. 

  • The tornado leveled a trailer, in which four young children were seeking shelter in. A five-year-old boy was found about 20 feet from the trailer, wrapped in a green rug “like a burrito.” He didn’t know where the rug came from or how he got wrapped up in it. However, he did say a man with brown hair was “hovering” over him. 

  • A 14-year-old girl was inside of a car that was thrown two blocks by the tornado. Debris impaled through her leg. During the months it took for her to recover, she reported that butterflies would flock to her.

The Butterfly People were such a big part of the story of Joplin Tornado in the local community, that there are murals of the butterflies in the town now. There is also a Butterfly Garden & Observatory. What were these butterfly people? Were they a type of cryptid, like a fairy? Were they the kids’ guardian angels? Or was it just something that the kids came up with, as a coping method to the trauma they went through?

Below is a brief video documentary of the Butterfly Garden & Overlook, and why it was made. It mentions how every kid they talked to reported seeing the butterfly people. 

Paranormal

The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall. One of the most widely published photos of a ghost was taken on September 19, 1936 in Raynham Hall in the United Kingdom. Captain Hubert. C Provand took this photo for Country Life Magazine. He was taking photographs of Raynham Hall for an article, when he and his assistant say "a vapory form gradual assuming the appearances of a woman." They quickly snapped a photo and this is how it turned out. The Brown Lady is allegedly Lady Dorothy Walpole, the sister of the first Prime Minster of Great Britain. She lived from 1686-1726. The Brown Lady was first seen during a Christmas party in 1835. This photo shown here, is generally assumed to be a genuine photo of a ghost. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Albertville, AL Ghosts

On April 24, 1908, a deadly tornado outbreak affected the Dixie states. Per Thomas Grazulis, an F4 tornado moved along a 105-mile path through Walker, Jefferson, Blunt, Marshall, and Dekalb Counties in Alabama. The tornado was rated F4, and it sadly killed 35 people. Nearly half of the town of Albertville was destroyed by the tornado. 15 out of the 35 fatalities occurred in Albertville. Ironically, 102 years to the date of the 1908 Tornado, an EF-3 tornado struck the town, damaging and destroying several homes. 33 people were injured by the tornado of April 24, 2010.

Damage in Albertville from NWS Birmingham.

After the 1908 tornado, a library was built where a destroyed house had been. It has been reported that the spirits of those killed by the tornado haunt the library.  When the employees would come to open up the library, there were reports of stomping and slamming. Apparently the ghouls would turn faucets on and off in the bathroom. The library was damaged during the 2010 tornado.

Minor (EF-0) damage to the haunted Albertville Library after the 2010 tornado.

Another spirit, that of a young boy killed by the tornado, was reported to be seen on Main Street. He was seen running barefoot at night through the street, and even running out in front of cars. One woman who lived in an apartment on Main Street reported seeing several young children dressed in 19th-century clothing playing in the street in the middle of the night.

The Weather Channel TV show Twisted Believer aired an episode of the hauntings that had been reported. We were not able to locate this episode online to link to the summary. If you happen to come across it, please let us know!

The Boy with the Pop Bottle

On January 23, 1969, an F4 tornado tracked for 118 miles through Mississippi. It devastated the town of Hazlehurst. 32 people were killed and numerous buildings were leveled. 29 of the deaths occurred in Hazelhurst. You can read our summary, here

A Hazlehurst native and filmmaker, Steve Collin, made a documentary on a unique occurrence. A 10-year-old boy reportedly predicted the tornado. In 1966, three years before the tornado, the boy showed up in town. He claimed to have been sent by God. The boy always balanced a glass Coke bottle on his head, which is why he became known as the “The Boy with the Pop Bottle on His Head.” The boy would walk through town saying something bad was going to happen to Hazlehurst. Three years after he came to town, the town was struck by a tornado. The boy was never seen again. Many think that he was sent there to warn them of the twister.

Destruction in Hazelhurst after the deadly F4 tornado swept through. Photo from the Tornado Talk Summary.

On May 13, 2019, Steve Collin appeared on Weather Brains to talk about his documentary, and the Boy with the Pop Bottle on His Head. You can watch that episode by clicking on the video below.

Interview with James Krug

When it comes to dealing with controversial topics, it is always good to get expert advice. I reached out to James Krug. He was the perfect guy to answer these questions. James is the Astronomy Teacher at the Altoona Area High School in Altoona, PA. He also runs the Neil Armstrong Planetarium in Altoona and the Mt. Lion Observatory, in Sinking Valley, PA. James is the State Section Director for section 8 of the Pennsylvania MUFON and is a trained MUFON investigator. James also co-hosts the Majestic Ears Only podcast, which is an objective series about the strange and unexplained.

Nick (left) and James (right) at a Skyshow at the Mt. Lion Observatory in August 2019.

1). Have you ever gotten a report as a MUFON investigator of a UFO before/during/ or after a tornado or severe thunderstorm? 

James: “No, but this could be in part because we rarely have tornadoes in Pennsylvania.  I find this a potentially interesting correlation though!”

2). On one episode of the Weather Channel show “Twisted Believers,” they had UFO investigators on it and they claimed that UFOs are seen during tornadoes because they gain energy from the tornadoes. Do you think this is possible? 

James: “I have heard similar theories about UFOs in earthquake zones, and even seen NASA footage of UFOs allegedly siphoning plasma off of the Sun!  I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that advanced, interdimensional machines can glean power from geologic and solar processes.”

This can be seen in the video attached to the Noblesville, IN UFO section. 

3.) Florida Skunk Ape sightings increase after tornadoes and hurricanes that affect the area. If the Skunk Ape is real, and these sightings are to be believed, do you think that sightings increase after these events due to their habitats being damaged or destroyed? 

James: “I’ve shifted more to a belief that Bigfoots and their similar varieties are likely inter-dimensional, or perhaps biological avatars of more advanced civilizations- almost like an advanced, go-anywhere, ATV.  Especially in areas like Florida, I don’t think there is enough uninterrupted terrain for Skunk Apes to effectively evade detection indefinitely.  I believe it more likely activity increases due to the same Earth energy processes you alluded to in your previous question.”

Skunk ape was supposed to get its own section in our feature, however, there was not enough information online to look into the correlation of skunk ape and tornadoes. The main source for this topic is the Weather Channel show “Twisted Believers,” which was not available to watch online at the time this summary was written.

4). In 2018 a woman reported a UFO when a tornado struck Uniontown PA. Video account here: https://www.texasufosightings.com/buzz/ufo-spotted-before-scary-tornado-strike-in-uniontown-pa. The meteorologist in me wants to say that the light she saw was either lightning or a transformer blowing up, and the fact that she was carried through the air for over a block can easily be explained that she was picked up by the tornado and thrown. I can confirm as I go to school 14 miles away from where this occurred, that drug use is rampant in this area. Do you think this account could be chalked up to drugs or alcohol, or do you think that something strange did occur before and during the tornado? 

James: “Watched the video.  Looks like it was just file footage of a car driving near the tornado, rather than the UFO itself.  I think your non-UFO explanation is highly likely.  Though not paranormal, tornadoes are highly unusual events- especially in our area- so I think it’s likely witnesses could’ve misinterpreted the extreme weather of a tornado with UFO activity.”

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