They are not like the 1985 outbreak, but an outbreak nonetheless. It's quite a privilege and honor to be entrusted by the public in this way (my research is primarily sponsored by the National Science Foundation and NOAA, i.e., taxpayer dollars). At the Pittsburgh Office, the hours from 5 PM to 8 PM were consumed with issuing tornado warnings for monster storms in Mercer (F5 that went through Wheatland), Beaver (F3 through Big Beaver) and into southern Butler county. Arriving for shift around 3:45 Central Time, departing lead forecaster Steve Weiss (now Chief of the Science Support Branch at the SPC) briefed us that a tornado watch recently had been issued for parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Five people were killed in the area as some homes there were not well-built, and thus collapsed after being pushed off their foundations. Never again will I be caught off-guard. My parents were very upset since phone lines were down and they couldn't reach me. Following the warm frontal passage, skies cleared rapidly and temperatures quickly began to rise. It then hit the Tollendal Woods and Minets Point area, taking out the Brentwood Marina and a nearby subdivision. The peak of the outbreak took place during the early evening hours where the strongest and deadliest tornadoes formed across western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. After graduating from PSU, I attended the University of Oklahoma for graduate school (1996-2000), where I studied tornadogenesis, and since 2001, I've been back at PSU as a professor now making a living studying tornado formation. As noted in several summaries of this outbreak, including the official NWS damage assessment report, (NOAA/NWS October 1985): “Perhaps the lesson to be learned from the 1985 outbreak is that under the proper atmospheric conditions, major tornadoes can occur irrespective of the location or terrain.”. I took a quick dinner break and returned before the storms got into the coverage area of our radio stations. Also, my grandparents harkened from the Finger Lakes region of New York, so I was familiar with many areas of western New York affected by the outbreak. We plotted and analyzed surface charts and Skew-Ts by hand on a daily basis. I was much more interested in baseball than weather then, though we recently completed a weather unit in school in which tornadoes were among the topics. Looking back, it all started the evening of May 31st 1985. Continuing east, the tornado weakened slightly but remained violent as it struck Hermitage, damaging or destroying 71 homes along with the town's airport, destroying several hangars and planes. Severe thunderstorms and isolated tornadoes had already raked parts of the Midwest U.S. (particularly in Iowa and Wisconsin) the day before on May 30, associated with this same cold front (Grazulis, 1990). This two day series of Daily Weather Maps (courtesy NOAA/NWS) shows the eastward progression of the cold front; from near Chicago on Friday morning May 31st …. The Pittsburgh Office did not hear about any of the fatalities from the storms or the extent of the damage until well after 8 PM. We heard on the radio and television that there were tornado warnings for all of northwestern Pennsylvania as tornadoes were spotted in several areas moving from the west toward the east.
I lived 45 minutes away from the office, and it took every bit of that to get back to my farm. The extraordinary nature and location of this outbreak highlights the fact that tornadoes can strike anywhere and at any intensity given the right conditions. Another measure of instability is the Lifted Index (LI). It was rated F4, traveled more than 60 miles across rough terrain, and at times had a damage path width of around 2 miles. Coincidentally, the latter had barely escaped a tornado itself that day, it having momentarily touched down in the Blackdown Park Training Area before lifting again and passing over hundreds of married quarters. Along the right hand side is a list of many of the parameters calculated from the sounding data, including CAPE and LI, that are used to predict thunderstorm occurrence and potential strength. Remains of the Niles Park Plaza shopping center, which was leveled at F5 intensity.
I peppered my parents with questions the rest of the night about tornadoes. The tornado caused major damage in the small town, where two people were killed. Next Gallery. What happened next is history…historical damage and destruction. Both Reda and her mother escaped the basement through a window to find that her father was still alive, but going in and out of shock. My father-in-law lived in Punxsutawney, PA and belonged to the Punxsutawney Hunting Club. 90 people were killed and nine tornadoes were F4 or stronger, including the F5 Niles-Wheatland tornado. Extensive F3 (although some localized F4) damage occurred to an entire square block of homes in the Crawford Street and Patterson Road subdivision. I had just been promoted to lead forecaster in March of 1985. Many homes sustained severe damage there, with much of their upper floors missing.
Climatologists have estimated that the probability of a severe weather outbreak as widespread and catastrophic as this one, occurring this far north and east in North America once again is one in 75,000 (Grazulis, 2001).
This tornado stayed on the ground for 45 miles (72 km) but resulted in no fatalities. It had a textbook hook echo, something I had only seen in textbooks up until that time.  One of the more sobering instances was that of a blind Orangeville-area man whose home suffered a similar fate, following a painstaking 20 years of construction (LeGrand, 1990). Four warehouses near Highway 11 were ripped apart. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT, FOR THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN.
The tornado killed three more people in Cranesville before lifting. Another trucking steel processing plant were heavily damaged in Hermitage as well. log in to manage your profile and account.
The outbreak lasted roughly from just before 3 p.m. EDT, when the first tornado touched down in Wiarton, Ontario, until around 12 a.m. EDT when the last reported tornado struck Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania. I went to bed that night around 8 pm and had no idea what had just happened around me. We did, however, receive near real-time visible data satellite imagery on the center's (then) fairly new "CSIS" work stations.
, Even so, at the time these more eastern tornadoes were touching down, a final, more isolated supercell developed near Milverton in eastern Perth County which spawned a tornado at 6:15pm. The entire trip took approximately 90 minutes and the amount of destruction and loss as viewed from the air was unbelievable.
We returned home that night, and I told my parents that I had made a decision that is still with me today: I wanted to chase tornadoes. In fact, since May 31, 1985, only two tornado days have been deadlier in the entire United States. Joe, P. and Leduc, M. (1993). Witten, Donald E. (1985). I drove to Tionesta on Saturday morning to meet the helicopter.
During that time period I have gotten to see plenty of severe weather, both on radar and in person. ©2020, Hearst Television Inc. on behalf of WTAE-TV.
I had been home long enough to change into work clothes and mow between a few rows of Christmas trees before I saw my wife at the time waving to me from the top of the hill.
The damage would total nearly $1 billion in 2010 U.S. dollars.  The tornado then moved out over Kempenfelt Bay where it became a waterspout for a brief time before weakening out completely. NWS Despite the tornado's relatively short path length (under 10 kilometres (6.2 mi)), eight died in Barrie with 155 injured, and as many as 300 homes were damaged or destroyed.. I called the Pennsylvania State Police and they gave me an update on the damage that the tornadoes had caused in our area. Near Tower Crescent, the path narrowed to a comparatively small fifty metres. That evening while watching television (Superman II to be precise; back in those "old days," the networks aired movies on Friday nights), a crawl ran across the bottom of the screen that listed several counties in the viewing area that were in a tornado watch (these would have been counties in the northern part of the Harrisburg viewing area). I arrived at the office about 3:30 PM to a cloudless sky, but warm and humid conditions. This was my first severe weather shift as a lead forecaster. These tornadoes formed around the Highway 7 corridor between Lindsay to Madoc (Joe and Leduc, 1993) near the towns of Wagner Lake (F1 at 5:40pm), Reaboro (F1 at 6:05pm), Ida (F2 at 6:20pm), Rice Lake (F3 at 6:25pm), and Minto (F1 at 6:35pm). The tree coverage is very dense in the forest with deep shade even on sunny days. Thank you! Even though my immediate area wasn't impacted by a tornado, the power of those storms as they moved through really peaked my interest in weather.
The F4 tornado that went through Albion in southeast Erie County first touched down just west of the PA-OH border at 2059z (4:59 PM).
Do you have a story to share? My coworker had called at 4 PM. It then entered the southern part of Barrie shortly before 5:00pm. Precipitation looks like a hook on the radar returns; showing rain, hail and sometimes debris caused by the tornado, spiraling inward around the tornado circulation.
At any rate, the first storms associated with the outbreak in the United States formed just before our shift began on the 31st. “I saw everything.”. A steel-frame trucking plant in Wheatland was completely obliterated and partially swept away at F5 intensity, as the building's steel girder frame was mangled into a pile and pushed off of the foundation. It just missed the cities of Newmarket and Bradford before lifting west of Mount Albert at 5:25pm, with a path length in excess of 100 kilometres (62 mi), thus becoming a Canadian record that still stands today. In D. Burgess, C. Church, R. Davies-Jones, and C. Doswell (Eds. The end of May is a great time for a kid, as I was in that fifth month of 1985. This page will focus on the tornadoes that impacted northeastern Ohio, far southwestern New York, and Pennsylvania. PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AND EASTERN LAKE ERIE W. VA They were deciding whether to hang out at the weather station or go to the party. Tragically, three or four people were killed (I think a man living in mobile home and two teenagers out in the woods), but I was amazed at how many were not hurt after viewing the destruction.
One station I was updating was WKZA in Kane, a daytime only AM station (it no longer exists). Hearst Television participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on purchases made through our links to retailer sites. I was ecstatic when I got my acceptance letter from Penn State University. (BACK TO TOP), Beaver County Times - Collection of 30th Anniversary Articles, Cleveland Plain Dealer - 25th Anniversary, Pittsburgh Post Gazette - 20th Anniversary, Tornado Watch Number 211 by John G. Fuller, Published September 1st 1987 by William Morrow & Company, Youngstown Vindicator - Tornado Victims Remembered, Supplemental Presentation by Nick Sleptzoff, former Erie County EMA director, NWS Storm Prediction Center Weather Report Archive, NWS/NOAA Employees/Retirees Stephen Corfidi, Bob Davis, Bill Drazl, Thomas Dunham, Priscilla Farrar, Rihaan Gangat, Paul Head, Carolyn Kloth, Christopher Liscinsky, Bill Modzelewski, Paul Nieman, Rob Radzanowski, and Teresa Rossi for their recollections, images, and data, Tom Atkins, WJET/Fox 66 for images and video, Henry Margusity, Accuweather for video footage and images, Dr. Paul Markowski and Lee Grenci, Penn State University for images, information, and recollections, Curtis Bowley, Susan Lucas Kazenas, and Ed Kieser for their recollections, Elyse Hagner and William Gartner, NWS State College, PA. I wanted to travel to Marienville but all the roads were blocked by downed trees and the fireman advised that I should not attempt to get there. The storms continued to develop southward into the Pittsburgh warning area. We'll never know. TORNADO SAFETY TIPS | PROTECT YOUR FAMILY.