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Active Weather Through Memorial Day

Severe thunderstorms are expected the next two days from the northern and central Plains into the Upper Midwest. These storms will be capable of producing large hail, damaging wind gusts, heavy rain and a few tornadoes. Meanwhile, the dry and parched conditions with gusty winds continue across New Mexico into the southern High Plains and critical fire weather threats are likely. Read More >

A major tornado started two miles west of the Ohio state line southeast of Monroe Center, OH along Hilldom Road (eight miles southwest of Pennside, Pa), then moved into Pennsylvania through Pennside and Albion, to three miles eastnortheast of Cranesville. In Ohio, 10 mobile homes were destroyed or damaged and several trees were downed. Utility poles were snapped off along the storm's path. In Albion, an eight to ten block area and two trailer parks were leveled, with nine dead. In Cranesville, two trailer parks were destroyed, with three deaths and thirteen trailers destroyed. There were 82 injuries and 309 buildings damaged or destroyed.
Source: NCDC Storm Data: May 1985; Volume 27, Number 5

At 5:05 PM, a state policeman at Pennside in Erie County, Pennsylvania, at the Ohio border, spotted a funnel cloud heading for Albion.  Moments later an Albion fire department volunteer saw the tornado coming into Albion and raced to the radio room to broadcast a message of impending destruction.  Scores of residents heard the message and credited the broadcast with saving their lives.  The volunteer's home was destroyed.

A dedicated Weather Service employee at Erie remained on duty even though he knew the Albion tornado passed close to his home.  He found out later his home and family were fine.
Source:  National Disaster Survey Report:  The Ohio-Pennsylvania Tornadoes of May 31, 1985

 
This was the first warning of the day by the NWS Weather Service Office in Erie, PA (this area is now covered by the NWS Weather Forecast Office in Cleveland, OH):

BULLETIN ACTIVATE EBS
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ERIE PA
513 PM EDT FRI MAY 31 1985 EXPIRES 530 PM

COUNTIES AFFECTED PA ERIE

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN ERIE HAS ISSUED A TORNADO WARNING UNTIL 530 PM FOR THESE COUNTIES IN NORTHWESTERN PENNSYLVANIA...SOUTHERN ERIE 

A TORNADO WAS SIGHTED BY STATE POLICE NEAR PENNSIDE...SOUTH OF ALBION IN ERIE COUNTY AT 505 PM...MOVING TOWARD THE NORTHEAST AT 30 MILES AN HOUR.

The image below shows an image overlay from the WSR-74C radar located in Erie, PA. Before our current (WSR-88D) radars were installed, meteorologists hand-traced radar echoes onto overlays such as these. This overlay was drawn just before the first warning was issued.

Albion Radar Image

Erie, PA WSR-74C Weather Radar Overlay Image

Source:  Erie Times-News

Source:  Erie Times-News

Source:  Erie Times-News

Source:  Killer Tornados - Published by The Area Shopper

Source:  Killer Tornados - Published by The Area Shopper, photo by Karen Teudhope

Albion Tornado headed toward Cranesville.

Source:  Killer Tornados - Published by The Area Shopper, photo by Paul Medved

Source:  Killer Tornados - Published by The Area Shopper