Dec. 3, 1983, started as a sunny day, temperatures climbed into the upper 60s, which is slightly warmer than average. People remember the sky growing increasingly darker minute by minute of the game. By the third quarter, the bad weather had arrived.
In the early 1980s, communicating severe weather was very different than today. Many people in charge at Legion Field didn’t even know a tornado warning had been issued until someone announced it on the sound system with 10 minutes to go in the game.
Despite what we know today, and our proactive approach to weather, most people stayed put. No evacuation. Hardly a person left their seat.
In the case of the 1983 Iron Bowl, Chance Corbin, remembers the stormiest Iron Bowl, looking at his dad, asking if they were going to leave and his dad looked at him and said, “It’s the Iron Bowl, we’re not going anywhere.”
Video from that Iron Bowl shows umbrellas being yanked from hands and being flipped inside out with the force of the wind, which was likely between 40-45 mph. The field turned into a muddy mess and there were turnovers left and right. The game is notable for Bo Jackson’s over 250 rushing yards, 71 yard touchdown which helped secure Auburn’s victory, 23-20, over the Crimson tide.
Tragically, that same storm produced a deadly, F-3, tornado which touched down in Calhoun County, in the city of Oxford. It tore through a grocery store killing two people.