February 27, 2024

The Pizen Switch Times

Established 2021

Pizen Switch Tornado on May 26th,1964 at Valley View Cemetery, Sciarani Ranch, Frade Ranch

The May 29th, 1964 Edition of the Mason Valley News headlined “Freak Tornado Smashes Valley; Turbulence Boils Up, Rips Rural Area With Violence, Losses Heavy.  The first tornado ever recorded in Mason Valley – and probably in the entire State of Nevada – ripped through the rural area Tuesday afternoon as hundreds of people watched the turbulence in utter disbelief.

Residents lined Yerington’s Main Street to watch boiling black clouds and several tornado ‘funnels’ during the brief time the freak storm moved across the east side of the valley tearing up trees, smashing buildings, lifting heavier structures and bringing fear and surprise to those in its path.

…Hardest hit was the Sciarani ranch east of Yerington. Eugo and Arnold Sciarani were on the ranch property at the time loading bulls and took refuge along with Arnold’s three-year-old son Mark, under a truck…”

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Photo captions, of photos taken by Mason Valley News staff photographer Howard Anderson, left to right starting at the top:

  1. Scene of Devastation was the Sciarani property a mile east of Yerington, hardest hit by the freak tornado.
  2. Huge cottonwoods at the John Connolly Ranch were toppled and split by the twister. Members of the Walker River Telephone Company were on hand soon after to restore lines.
  3. Trees and limbs littered the Sciarani ranch yard in the storm’s wake.
  4. Grainery Building, (upper right) containing heavy machinery, was lifted from concrete block foundation and moved several feet to the right before crashing back to the ground.
  5. Tile shingles at the Seyden Ranch were stripped from the east side of the roof when the storm passed to the east but no other damage occurred.
  6. Firemen and other volunteers cover the roof of Ugo Sciarani home with canvas soon after storm rain continued to fall for several hours. Where man is on ladder, a porch had been until the tornado’s force ripped it off and deposited it in pieces in the corral.
  7.  Two scenes (photos above and below the caption) of the litter that remained at Sciarani’s after the twister had passed. Building to the upper right was lifted and dumped six to eight feet to the east.
  8. Cecil Wilson stands beside what formerly was a storage building. The roof was lifted off, shattered and scattered doen the field to the north for several hundred yards.
  9.  Impaled – A lamb at the Cecil Wilson place at the cemetery was impaled by a flying timber and instantly killed. The wood was driven completely trough the anima’s back. It had been removed when photo was taken. (**2022: 62 year old Dennis Wilson who still lives in Mason Valley states that this was his lamb…Dennis was 4 years old when the tornado ripped through the cemetery and the caretaker’s Wilson home.**)
  10. Tree house – a storage shed at the cemetery owned by Freitas Funeral Service lifted into an adjacent tree and its contents scattered as the storm moved down Connolly ditch but did not hit the Wilson home less than 50 yards away.

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Four news clippings provided to Pizen Switch Times from Tashina Galvin and Joan Sciarani on May 13th, 2022. The first two are from Mason Valley News  May 29, 1964 Edition: (The photographs in these are clearer than those of previous clippings.)

The next 2 clippings are from Mason Valley News, June 24th, 1988 Edition: