I can only image the forecasters that surveyed the tornado damage from the May 31st, 1985 outbreak felt the same as I did when they viewed the destruction. Just after 4 p.m., the Cleveland weather service office posted a thunderstorm warning, and it quickly became clear that a tornado outbreak of an unprecedented magnitude was taking place.. That went on continuously for many hours. The most EF5/F5 tornadoes in a single year. Also, my grandparents harkened from theFinger Lakes region of New York, so I was familiar with many areas of western New Yorkaffected by the outbreak. Kiel Ortega, Yuko Murayama, Dimiter Velev, Plamena Zlateva, This tornado has been officially rated at T8-T9 on the. On May 31, 1985 I was graduate student in meteorology at Penn State, a member of the Penn State Campus Weather Service, and just six days past my debut as weekend meteorologist for the summer on WNEP-TV in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Soundings are created by plotting the data reported by weather balloons that are launched by the NWS each day all across the country. The tornado impacted several cities (Figure 15), namely Newton Falls and Niles in Ohio and Wheatland in Pennsylvania. The deadliest tornado of the day touched down near Jamestown, Pennsylvania along the Mercer and Crawford County line around 5:20 p.m. The rain and wind continued for another 45 minutes to one hour. Dr. Forbes subsequently investigated and found tornado damage in Hollenback Township, Luzerne County. I used up my entire career severe tornado quota on my first severe weather shift as a lead forecaster. Since the creation of the International Fujita scale in 2018, no tornadoes have been rated IF5. They had their hunting camp in Clearfield County near Parker Dam State Park. Heflipped on the scanner and I was listening to it also and hearing him pace back and forth. Never again will I be caught off-guard. The true enormity of the31 Mayevent would not, however, become apparent to me until the following day when I awoke to radio news accounts from the devastated region. Radar images dont show the actual tornadoes themselves (see the videos in the next section for that), but instead show structures or signatures within the storms that produce tornadoes. One station I was updating was WKZA in Kane, a daytime only AM station (it no longer exists). I thanked him for the report and told him I would pass the information onto the Harrisburg WSO who had warning responsibility for Clinton. Figure 1. I never, ever forgot that moment. You have permission to edit this article. Additional Links. Along the way, the town of Atlantic was virtually destroyed. The atmosphere has to work harder.. Apparently too many came into the small Penn State radar room to witness weather history because the room got so hot that radar overheated and shut down about the time the Moshannon tornado was ending. It was the only F5 twister in Pennsylvania history. Idiot from Maryland who almost wrecked twice right in front of me today. Many other tornadoes have never been formally rated by an official government source but have nonetheless been described as F5/EF5/T10+ or equivalent, often by independent studies. She drove the mower back into the garage and I took off in the car. Storm Events Database. Show more Show more Recently, the average is 90 days with at least one tornado, and two or three days with 30 or more. Two barns were leveled and a pickup truck was carried .5mi (0.80km) through the air. It was taken by a salesman from Erie who later gave his undeveloped film to Buhl Clarke of Hermitage. First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Unfortunately, the tornadoes that hit Warren, Forest and Venango Counties on that fateful night thirty years ago were very destructive in terms of property and life. A closer view of the surface analysis of the warm sector, the area between the cold front and the warm front, at 7PM (23 UTC) Friday evening (courtesy Paul Markowski), shows how warm and especially how moist the airmass ahead of the cold front had become. At least two farms were swept away, and house foundations were left bare. . I was 10 years old and in fifth grade at the time. EMA Response & Technology of the Day, The 1985 Tornado Outbreak Revisited, Forecast CLE Office Two large homes were completely swept away. We could see supercells developing north of Lake Erie and racing northeast. Thomas P. Grazulis Ted Fujita), or meteorological research institutions (i.e. Negative LI values generally indicate unstable atmosphere, positive indicate lesser instability. It's far from clear what I'd be doing right now had it not been for the 5/31/85 tornado outbreak (and also perhaps had we not learned about tornadoes in school just before the outbreak). The F5 rating was replaced by EF5 under the new Enhanced Fujita Scale. At 4:10 pm, the NWS Office in Cleveland issued the first severe thunderstorm warning of the day for Ashtabula County. Bent steel posts attest to the brute force of the F5 tornado that slammed into Wheatland May 31, 1985. (The program will follow a Nova segment on the deadliest, which occurred in 2011.) At 8:17 PM the clocks in Kane stopped as an F4 tornado plowed through, missing the radio station by a block or two. Heavy wet snow on the backside of this storm could accumulate up to two feet through Monday across northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. National Weather Service THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH AREA. Not uncommon at all . This list includes tornadoes believed or confirmed to have been at F5 or EF5 intensity. This tornado is considered the only F5 on record in Arkansas. And Im sure the carpet cleaning crew wondered why the weather station was so busy on a Friday night in between semesters. The tornado hit only 8mi (13km) northwest of downtown. One entire farm was swept completely away. Chance of rain 90%.. Light rainmixing with snow overnight. The tornado touched down in Portage County Ohio at 6:30 pm EDT and travelled 47 miles to lift in Mercer County Pennsylvania at 7:35 pm EDT. For the next three hourswe called the radio stations we serviced in northwestern PA and went live on the air. According to the NWS Cleveland, OH (2019), this is a classic signature of severe weather outbreaks for this region. This list includes tornadoes previously rated F5 or EF5 by the National Weather Service as well as tornadoes rated F5/EF5 by other branches of the United States government, tornado experts (i.e. The orange shading in the following 850 mb chart (from Markowski) shows where winds were greater than 40Kts (46MPH). We suspected the Canadianstorms were bad, but had no way of verifying. Surface Analysis at 12Z. The cold front moving east provided the lift as it pushed into the warm sector and the dewpoints into the 70s show the available moisture. They were. In 1987 we went on a family picnic with him to Parker Dam and he took me on a little road trip through Moshannon State Park. Tornado, in one of historys greatest detective feats, measured the immeasurable. Widely accepted as an F5 tornado, including within the NCDC Technical Memorandum; however, it is listed as an F4 in the official databases. That tornados path of destruction stopped near Tidioute and we continued flying south following the Allegheny River back to the PSP barracks. They were being spotted everywhere and even in Greenville. Only about 20% of those supercells spawn tornadoes, and scientists arent sure why some do and some dont. Phone calls and people saying that tornados were hitting all around us. Weather Prediction Center I can also remember all the tornado warnings that were issued for the area as the storms moved in. More than 10 tornadoes touched down in Ontario. Fujita, who died in 1998, is the subject of a PBS documentary, Mr. Tornado, which will air at 9 p.m. Tuesday on WHYY-TV, 12 days shy of the 35th anniversary of that Pennsylvania F5 during one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history. A local Oklahoma company in Oklahoma City. But the state also experiences tornadoes of EF-3 category and above. The peak period in the central United States is early spring, with the crest of the wave gradually rippling eastward later in the spring and in June. 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. Please select one of the following: Local KCLE Standard Radar (low bandwidth), May 31st, 1985 Tornado Outbreak The 30th Anniversary, EMA Response & Technology of the Day, The 1985 Tornado Outbreak Revisited, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 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. Farms were swept away with no visible debris left. The sky even seemed to have a dark green color to it. I was ecstatic when I got my acceptance letter from Penn State University. Considered to be a probable F5 by Grazulis. At 18Z (2:00 pm EDT), the cold front was entering Ontario (Figure 8). May 31, 1985 started out quietly in Northeast Ohio and Northwest Pennsylvania, but danger loomed on the horizon. A few days after the tornado outbreak a group of us toured a part of the path of the Moshannon tornado and the damage in Kane. I will never forget the evening of May 31, 1985 and the events that occurred that night and during the next several weeks as the area of northwestern Pennsylvania where I live experienced a severe outbreak of several deadly tornadoes. By the next morning, however, the carnage was widely known throughout the state and country. Twenty-one tornadoes tracked across Northeast Ohio and Northwest Pennsylvania during the evening of May 31st. After 8 PM, the outflow from the Big Beaver storm initiated a new storm that produced an F1 short track tornado in East Sparta, OH just west of the Pittsburgh WSR-57 radar. Three rural schools houses were obliterated, at least one was "swept entirely away". Most of these tornadoes are low-impact EF-1 tornados, causing minimal damage. I lived in a mobile home park. BULLETIN ACTIVATE EBS TORNADO WARNING NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ERIE PA 620 PM EDT FRI MAY 31 1985 EXPIRES 700 PM MAY 31 1985COUNTIES AFFECTED PA ERIE AND CRAWFORDTHE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN ERIE HAS ISSUED A TORNADO WARNING UNTIL 700 PM FOR THESE COUNTIES IN NORTHWESTERN PENNSYLVANIA SOUTHERN ERIE AND NORTHERN CRAWFORD.AT 620 PM ERIE WEATHER RADAR SHOWS NEW TORNADOS ON THE GROUND WEST OF ALBION AND CONNEAUTVILLE PENNA. I couldn't not just sit back and do nothing through the next week. There was a great deal of damage north of Corry, but no one was seriously hurt. Property damage in Mercer County was estimated at more than $25 million, which would be about $55.7 million today. The three ingredients needed for thunderstorms are lift, moisture and instability. I lived 45 minutesaway from the office, and it took every bit of that to get back to my farm. Compared with today, the radar data available to SELS' was rudimentary. On June 3rd, the Federal Government declared a state of emergency for the state of Pennsylvania. The damage from a F5 tornado is incredible, automobiles become flying missles that can be thrown over 110 yards. The house was just a few blocks from the ballfield where Dave Kostka lost his life saving two youngsters. The tree coverage is very dense in the forest with deep shade even on sunny days. This tornado outbreak left a permanent impact on those affected. NOEL G. CARROLL | Herald fileA view from the tornado-damaged Cindy Orr house toward the Bovard house and Odd Fellows hall in Atlantic. With the temperature staying in the 60s, it did not feel like a tornado day. Greg said that a tremendous tornadic storm was pushing into Clinton County. Many other hospital workers and I went in, and we opened a floor to take in victims. Retrieved from: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/stormevents/. May 31, 1985 Tornado Outbreak: 34th Anniversary.
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