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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 maxi tornado touched down at the east end of the Ravenna Arsenal in Portage County, OH.  The storm moved east, entering Trumbull County, OH around 6:40EST.  The storm destroyed much of the town of Newton Falls and continued east through Lordstown, Niles and Hubbard, OH before moving into Pennsylvania and causing serious damage in Wheatland (two miles southwest of Mercer, PA). 

All the Ohio deaths occurred in Niles and Hubbard.  Most of the deaths were in the Top of the Strip Mall area on State Route 46 in Niles.  Another woman died in Niles when she suffered a heart attack upon reviewing the destruction of her home after the storm had moved out of the area.  The injury count is approximate and may be slightly higher.  Hundreds of homes were destroyed and more than a thousand others damaged.  Public buildings, schools, warehouses and businesses also sustained serious damage.  On the west edge of Niles, a petroleum tank farm was destroyed.  Some of the tanks were bounced a considerable distance.  Damage estimates were more than $60 million in Ohio alone. 

In the Wheatland, PA area, over 100 buildings were leveled, and several industrial facilities were severely damaged.  About 59 other Pennsylvania homes were also damaged.  The storm path was continuous and destruction was total in many areas. 
Source: NCDC Storm Data: May 1985; Volume 27, Number 5

Late in the afternoon on May 31, a tornado watch went into effect [for Newton Falls, OH].  One of the [SKYWARN trained] Safety Reserve volunteers climbed to the roof of the fire station to assume his spotter position.  However, before he climbed to the roof, he went next door to the American Legion Hall and told over 100 bingo players that if the siren sounded, they should take cover under the tables and chairs.  

At approximately 6:38PM, the volunteer spotter saw a tornado just west of Newton Falls heading right for the downtown area.  He radioed below to the police station to sound the siren.  The siren wailed for about 60-90 seconds before the tornado silenced the blast.  THe spotter just barely made it to safety in the building's basement.  The sirens sent the people in the American Legion Hall scrambling for safety under the tables and chairs.

At 6:40 PM, an F3 tornado, packing winds of up to 200 mph, slammed into the center of Newton Falls.  The tornado heavily damaged or destroyed may buildings, including the American Legion Hall and a school adjacent to the fire station.  The tornado also hit a large water tower just southwest of the fire station and was strong enough to slightly twist the tower.  Numerous homes to the west and east of the downtown area were destroyed or heavily damaged with the strongest damage occurring in the downtown area and to the east of the town.  The survey team found many people in the community heard the siren and knew what to do.  Considering the severity of the tornado and its impact on the community, it shows having a preparedness plan and promoting education of the citizens saves lives!
Source:  Natural Disaster Survey Report:  The Ohio-Pennsylvania Tornadoes of May 31, 1985

 

Newton Falls, OH

Broad Street in Newton Falls
Source:  ODOT District 4

Broad Street in Newton Falls
Source:  ODOT District 4

Newton Falls Residential Area
Source:  
ODOT District 4
 

Newton Falls High School
Source:  
ODOT District 4
 

Newton Falls High School
Source:  
ODOT District 4

Newton Falls Residential Area
Source:  ODOT District 4

 

Veterans Park in Newton Falls
Source:  ODOT District 4

 

Niles, OH

Source: NCDC Storm Data: May 1985; Volume 27, Number 5/ Photo credit:  Duane J. Stiegler, University of Chicago

Source:  Tracy E. Taylor

Source:  Tracy E. Taylor


Eastwood Arms Apartments in Niles
Source:  Tracy E. Taylor
Niles Union Cemetery
Source:  Tracy E. Taylor
Park Plaza in Niles
Source:  ODOT District 4
 
 
Wheatland, PA
 

Source: NCDC Storm Data: May 1985; Volume 27, Number 5/ Photo credit:  Rick Cione, Farrell, PA

 Source: NCDC Storm Data: May 1985; Volume 27, Number 5/ Photo credit:  Duane J. Stiegler, University of Chicago

Source:  Killer Tornados - Published by The Area Shopper

Source:  Killer Tornados - Published by The Area Shopper

Source:  Killer Tornados - Published by The Area Shopper

Source:  Killer Tornados - Published by The Area Shopper