Posts Tagged ‘Severe Weather’

Western Pennsylvania Severe Weather Watches Chronology…1993

November 24, 2011

Severe Weather Watches Chronology for Western Pennsylvania moves on to 1993.

Here we go…Friday, April 16, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Western Pennsylvania east of Pittsburgh til 7 AM, and then later on that day a Tornado Watch was issued for Western Pennsylvania from Somerset east til 11 PM…Wednesday, May 12, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Southern Pennsylvania as far north as Beaver and Butler til 8 PM…Friday, May 28, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Southwestern Pennsylvania til 4 AM…Monday, June 7, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch for extreme Southwestern Pennsylvania til 1 AM…Tuesday, June 8, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 10 PM, and then another Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued for Southwestern Pennsylvania til 2 AM…Wednesday, June 9, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch til Noon, and then another Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued til 5 PM…and then a Tornado Watch was issued for Northwestern Pennsylvania til 11 PM…Friday, June 18, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch for extreme Western Pennsylvania til 10 PM…Sunday, June 20, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Western Pennsylvania east of Pittsburgh til 9 PM, and then another Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued for extreme Western Pennsylvania also til 9 PM…Sunday, June 27, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Northern Pennsylvania as far south as New Castle and Butler til 10 PM…Monday, June 28, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Southwestern Pennsylvania til 10 PM…Tuesday, July 6, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 11 PM…Saturday, July 10, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 11 PM…Monday, July 26, 1993, Tornado Watch til 7 PM…Wednesday, July 28, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 10 PM, and then another Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued til 2 AM…Monday, August 2, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 8 PM…Friday, August 20, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued for Northwestern Pennsylvania til 8 PM…Tuesday, August 31, 1993, Tornado Watch for Northwestern Pennsylvania til 8 PM, and then a Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued for Southwestern Pennsylvania til 10 PM…Thursday, September 2, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 9 PM…Friday, September 3, 1993, Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 8 PM…and finally, Wednesday, November 17, 1993, Tornado Watch for Southwestern Pennsylvania til 5 PM, and then another Tornado Watch was issued for South-Central Pennsylvania also til 5 PM.

There’s 1993.

1994 coming.


Western Pennsylvania Severe Weather Watches Chronology…1990

November 23, 2011

Well, I’m finally back. I’m really excited about this little project that I’m about to start.

This post will be the first in a series of year-by-year chronologies for dates when the National Severe Storms Forecast Center/Storm Prediction Center issued Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Watches for Western Pennsylvania, or at least parts of it, along with the expiration times.

As stated in the previous post, THIS IS ALL FROM MEMORY!!!! This gives my mind a good exercise.

Without further ado, onto the Watches issued for Western Pennsylvania in 1990…Friday, February 16, 1990, Tornado Watch til 9 PM…Sunday, April 1, 1990, Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 9 PM…Sunday, June 3, 1990, Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Northwestern Pennsylvania til 11 PM…Friday, June 8, 1990, Tornado Watch til 10 PM, and then was extended til 3 AM…Monday, June 18, 1990, Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 2 PM…Friday, June 22, 1990, Severe Thunderstorm Watch til Midnight…Saturday, June 30, 1990, Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 10 PM…Thursday, July 5, 1990, Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 9 PM…Monday, July 9, 1990, Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 9 PM…Friday, July 20, 1990, Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 8 PM…Tuesday, August 28, 1990, Tornado Watch til 11 PM, and then a Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 2 AM…Thursday, September 6, 1990, Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 8 PM, and then a Tornado Watch til 1 AM…and finally, Friday, September 14, 1990, Tornado Watch til 10 PM, and then was extended til Midnight.

So there were the Watches for 1990.

1991 will be coming up next.

Western Pennsylvania Tornado Watch Dates History

July 31, 2011

Well, here I am again.  I’m delaying my being struck by lightning post so that I can do this one.

This post will cover the history of Tornado Watches for Western Pennsylvania from 1985 up to present times.

I have always been blessed with a great memory, as it has always been one of my strong points.  It’s even been suggested that my memory is photographic, which may be true. I’m very surprised and amazed by some of the things that I can remember.

Anyway, I have always had a great memory of dates.  Especially dates for weather events here in the Ohio-Western Pennsylvania region. Thunderstorms and severe weather events, in particular.  I can remember every single thunderstorm episode that we’ve had ever since my earliest childhood memories. From 1985 up to present times, I can tell you the exact circumstances of any given severe weather episode for Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, right down to the Watches and Warnings that were issued for any particular day. I even remember the shapes and sizes of the actual Watch Boxes over the years. One time when I was younger, when I visited the Pittsburgh National Weather Service Forecast Office in Moon Township, near the Pittsburgh International Airport, on Saturday, April 9, 1994,  the people who were working there that evening were going to look up something in their record books for a specific day, but they didn’t need to after I told them what happened on that day, and they were all very impressed by my memory.

Before going any further,  I must point out that I don’t have anything written down, and I am not using any sources to help me, as again, this is all from personal memory, and that’s the honest-to-goodness truth.

With that in mind, onto the list. The following dates are all days where Western Pennsylvania, or at least parts of it, was under a Tornado Watch and their expiration times…Friday, May 31, 1985, one til 11 PM, and then another one til 1 AM…Monday, June 16, 1986, til Midnight…Saturday, April 23, 1988, til 6 PM…Monday, May 9, 1988, til 9 PM…Monday, May 23, 1988, til Midnight…Friday, February 16, 1990, til 9 PM…Friday, June 8, 1990, til 10 PM, and then got extended til 3 AM…Tuesday, August 28, 1990, til 11 PM, and then was replaced by a Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 2 AM…Thursday September 6, 1990, initially was a Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 8 PM, and then was replaced by a Tornado Watch til 1 AM…Friday, September 14, 1990, til 10 PM, and then got extended til Midnight…Tuesday, April 9, 1991, til Midnight…Sunday, July 5, 1992, til 8 PM…Sunday, July 12, 1992, initially started as a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Northern Ohio til 11 PM, and then was replaced by a Tornado Watch which then included Northwestern Pennsylvania til 1 AM…Monday, July 13, 1992, til 9 PM…Wednesday, September 9, 1992, til 10 PM…Wednesday, June 9, 1993, til 11 PM…Monday, July 26, 1993, til 7 PM…Tuesday, August 31, 1993, til 8 PM, and then was replaced by a Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 10 PM…Wednesday…November 17, 1993, til 5 PM…Friday, April 15, 1994, til 7 PM, and then was replaced by a Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 10 PM…Sunday, August 28, 1994, as the first Tornado Watch was issued for Northwestern Pennsylvania til 5 PM, and then a Tornado Watch was issued for all of Western Pennsylvania til 11 PM…Wednesday, May 10, 1995, til 10 PM…Sunday, May 14, 1995, til 10 AM, and then another Tornado Watch was issued later that day for Northwestern Pennsylvania til 9 PM…Monday, April 15, 1996, til 10 PM…Saturday, April 20, 1996, til 10 PM…Friday, July 19, 1996, til 6 PM…Friday, September 6, 1996, for extreme Southwestern Pennsylvania til 6 PM, due to the remnants of Hurricane Fran…Sunday, May 31, 1998, initially started as a Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 3 PM, and then was replaced by a Tornado Watch til 10 PM, and then another Tornado Watch was issued til 1 AM…Tuesday, June 2, 1998, til 10 PM…Wednesday, September 29, 1999, til 10 PM…Monday, May 21, 2001, til 11 PM…Monday, April 15, 2002, til 10 PM…Sunday, April 28, 2002, til 5 PM…Sunday, July 28, 2002, for Northwestern Pennsylvania til 8 PM…Sunday, November 10, 2002, til Midnight…Sunday, May 11, 2003, til 5 PM…Saturday, September 27, 2003, til 6 AM…Saturday, May 22, 2004, til 11 PM…Friday, August 19, 2005, Northwestern Pennsylvania til 10 PM…Sunday, November 6, 2005, initially started as a Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 6 PM, and then was upgraded to a Tornado Watch til 6 PM…Wednesday, November 9, 2005, initially started as a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Northwestern Pennsylvania til 7 PM, and then was replaced by a Tornado Watch for all of Western Pennsylvania til 10 PM…Monday, April 3, 2006, til 5 PM…Thursday, April 26, 2007, til 10 PM…Wednesday, July 4, 2007, til 9 PM…Saturday, May 31, 2008, til 11 AM…Wednesday, June 17, 2009, til 10 PM, and then was replaced by a Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 1 AM…Saturday, June 5, 2010, initially started as a Severe Thunderstorm Watch til 9 PM, and then was replaced by a Tornado Watch til 9 PM…Sunday, June 6, 2010, til 9 AM, and then another Tornado Watch was issued til 3 PM…Tuesday, October 26, 2010, til 9 PM…Monday, February 28, 2011, til 1 PM…Wednesday, March 23, 2011, til 9 PM…Wednesday, April 27, 2011, til 10 PM…Monday, May 23, 2011, Northwestern Pennsylvania til 9 PM, and then til 10 PM…Wednesday, August 24, 2011, what initially started as a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for extreme Northwestern Pennsylvania til 5 AM was then upgraded to a Tornado Watch til 5 AM…Monday, November 14, 2011, til 11 PM…Friday, June 1, 2012, Tornado Watch for South-Central Pennsylvania til 9 PM, and then a Tornado Watch was issued for North-Central Pennsylvania til Midnight…Wednesday, June 12, 2013, Tornado Watch for Southwestern Pennsylvania til Midnight, and then was replaced by a Particularly Dangerous Situation Severe Thunderstorm Watch for West-Central and Southwestern Pennsylvania til 6 AM…Wednesday, June 11, 2014, Tornado Watch for Southwestern and South-Central Pennsylvania til 9 PM… and finally, Sunday, July 27, 2014, til 9 PM.

Well, there you have it. Again, all from my head.

Eventually, I will list the Severe Thunderstorm Watch dates for Western Pennsylvania. Of course, for Western Pennsylvania, there has been considerably more Severe Thunderstorm Watches as opposed to Tornado Watches over the years. The Severe Thunderstorm Watch dates list will be quite extensive and very long.

Also, I will eventually get more into specific details regarding particular severe weather episodes, as it will all be from personal memory.

Future postings will go more into specific detail about the aforementioned dates and more from my own personal recollections, and the date entries will be quite lengthy, as I will be providing minute-by-minutes accounts, include the Watches and Warnings for specific areas and counties.

I could write a whole book about severe weather events in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, and it would all be done by memory.

I would like to say one more thing before I’m done…To some people, this post may appear that I’m boasting, in which I’m not, as it’s not my nature at all to do such a thing, and that was certainly not my intention.  To quote Clark Kent from the very first “Superman” movie, “Is a bird showing off when it flies?”. I have been blessed with a gift and am very thankful for. I am not writing this to show off. The purpose of this is for, in the future, if people wanted to know such information, this along with future postings that I will be writing, could be used as a reference.

Well, I’ll close for now. That was a lot of fun. It gives my mind a good exercise.

Until the next blog.

The Most Incredible Thunderstorm That I Have Ever Seen

April 24, 2011

Well, I’m finally back with a new blog. It’s great to do another one.

For this blog, I’m going to talk about the night our 350 year-old giant oak tree came crashing down in the most incredible thunderstorm that I have ever seen.

Before I get to that, I’m going to talk a little bit about the tree…It was in the front yard of my grandparents'(whom I always lived with)house in a big neighborhood in North Sewickley, Pennsylvania, in between New Brighton and Ellwood City. As I said, the tree was 350 years old. It was a local landmark, and it was actually going to be designated a historic landmark. It was by far the biggest tree that I have ever seen. The tree was so tall and thick, it blocked out the sky, and it was like a whole other world under the tree. That was the reason why my grandparents bought the house. The oak tree was an awesome sight to see, and everyone that came into our neighborhood was in awe of it.  The tree attracted a lot of attention. It TRULY was a giant among trees.

Anyway, on the night the tree came down, I was very young, about four or five years old, when this happened, but yet I remember that night vividly.

Nobody in my family seems to remember the exact year, but I want to say either the Summer of 1980…1981…or 1982, although ’80 or ’81 is more likely. Someone might have the exact date written down somewhere.

Anyway, during that time, we had a full household. My grandparents, mother, aunt, uncle, and myself all lived together.

A thunderstorm like no other came in late one night around 1 or 2 AM. I was sleeping in my grandparents’ bed, as I often did back then. Their bed faced the window(it’s been changed around several times since then, and now the headrest is right on the window)looking out over the front yard. My grandparents had the bedroom curtains open on that particular night.

Anyway, I woke up in their bed all alone, and what a sight and sound I woke up too!! Outside that window was continuous lightning and nonstop booming loud thunder. The extremely loud thunder and the incredibly intense lightning did not stop, not even for a second!!

To this day, I have NEVER seen a storm like that one, not even the ’85 tornado(see previous blog). For our place, this storm was MUCH worse than ’85.

Getting back to that night…As I said before, I woke up in my grandparents’ bed alone to the incredible storm going on outside. Thankfully, my grandparents had left the bedroom light on for me. I quickly jumped out of bed, scared out of my mind. I ran downstairs and joined everyone huddled together in our living room(it’s the dining room now), which is the room that you come into when coming through our front door. Right after I joined everybody is when the power went out. I got down there just in time. That would have been absolutely terrifying to wake up to that sight and sound in total darkness. It was scary enough as it was. My grandmother saw AT LEAST SIX miniature tornadoes in our backyard. They were spinning all over the place. These little funnels destroyed our next door neighbors’ shed. They built a new shed after that, but it’s been torn down within the last few years.

Anyway, these little funnels must have been gustnadoes, but to have that number of gustnadoes at one time is incredible!!

Getting back to all of us huddled in the living room…My grandfather and uncle got out candles and lanterns to light. They actually had them ready before the power went out. The wind was amazing!! The wind speed had to be AT LEAST 100 MPH. It was by far the strongest wind that we have ever had. No wind speed has even come close to that night since then, and we’ve gotten some major wind!!

The wind was so powerful that the top of the oak tree was touching the ground, and that tree was exceptionally tall!! It was completely bent over. Then the tree whipped right back up, standing tall again.

I will never forget the sound of the wind that night. I have never heard anything like that before or since. The wind sounded like all these demons with shrilling, high-pitched shrieks. It was an otherworldly sound.

I will also never forget the sound of the tree coming down. It was a very eerie creaking noise, which LITERALLY ended with a bang!!

It was the combination of the wind and the lightning, although I think that it was more contributed by the lightning, that brought the tree down. A HUGE bolt of lightning struck the tree, and then the tree started falling towards the house!! Everyone started to panic, because had the tree landed on the house, both the house and us would have been crushed. But then, as if by some miracle, right before the tree made impact with the house, it suddenly changed direction and crashed down onto our front yard. It was as though giant hands took the tree and shoved it in the other direction. The tree came down with an earth-shattering crash. We have a big front yard, and the tree was so immense, it covered our entire yard.

This freakish storm finally let up and moved out. The whole neighborhood knew what happened. Everyone saw and heard the tree come crashing down.

After this amazing storm passed through, I went out with my grandmother as she went around the neighborhood talking to everyone about what happened. It was still in the middle of the night. There was still lightning from the departed storm, but while we were out, the lightning became increasingly more distant until it was gone completely, but it took the better part of the night for the lightning to completely go away, that’s how severe this storm was, but the lightning was distant enough where it was safe to walk around the neighborhood that very late night.

Daylight brought with it a clear sky and a nice sunrise. It was a beautiful day, as though nothing ever happened.

People from everywhere came to look at the great, fallen tree. Our electrical wires that ran from the house to the main wires along the street were knocked down from the tree. Friends, neighbors, relatives, and a crew all came to help cut up the tree and clear up our yard and fix the wires. It took a long time to do so, that’s how huge the tree was, and the tree trunk and branches were incredibly long and thick. It was like going through a big maze in our front yard during the cleanup process.

I believe Jackson Browne’s “Boulevard” was the big hit at that particular time, because it was played on the radio a lot while everyone was at our house working on the front yard. I think back to that time whenever I hear that song.

We have pictures of the fallen tree and the tree stump that was left behind. Even what was left of the stump was big. I’m pretty sure that we have pictures of this proud, magnificent tree when it was still standing. I hope that we can find the pictures one of these days. The pictures have got to be in the house somewhere.

Many years went by before we finally removed the remnants of the tree stump. There is a little garden area out there now where the great tree once stood.

We all miss that tree, especially my grandparents. They miss that tree terribly.

Getting back to the time the tree came down…We had EXCEPTIONALLY severe thunderstorms that particular Summer. Some of the worst storms that I can remember occurred that Summer, with the first storm obviously being the worst.

I can remember later that same Summer, while I was watching Saturday Morning Cartoons, a mighty powerful storm came in. My grandparents were out somewhere. I was there with my mother and her then-boyfriend. The lightning quickly intensified and knocked the power out before the worst of the storm even came in. I was out on our closed-in back porch(it has since been replaced with a much bigger, nicer room)when the wind really picked up. The maple tree, which is still there, in our side yard was completely bent over. The top of the tree was just right up above the ground. That is the only time that I’ve ever seen that tree like that. Sizewise, the maple tree is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING compared to the great oak tree that came down, but it is still a big tree, even bigger now.

Anyway, getting back to that Saturday morning storm…My mother’s then-boyfriend was watching out the back porch window with me at the completely bent-over maple tree. He was very concerned. The wind was very strong, probably in between 70-80 MPH. Amazingly, the wind on this day GREATLY paled in comparison to the wind on the night the oak tree came down. Scary, isn’t it?

As I was saying, talking about the Saturday morning storm later that same Summer…My mother’s then-boyfriend and me were watching the completely bent-over maple tree in our side yard. Fortunately, the wind subsided and the storm moved on out without much further doing.

And then yet again later that same Summer, we had a spectacular electrical storm during the late evening, in between 10 and 11 PM. The lightning was so frequent and vivid that it made the nighttime sky look as though it was in the middle of the day.  It was amazing!!

Stormwise, that was one heck of a Summer!! I haven’t seen anything quite like that particular Summer since then. That might have been an El Nino year, because there was an El Nino pattern going on in the very early Eighties.

So there is the story of the most amazing storm and Summer I have ever seen. Even now, our worst storms are nothing compared to the storms of that Summer.

I will blog again soon. I will be talking about the night I got struck by lightning in my next blog.

Until then.

May 31, 1985 Tornado Outbreak…Thirty Years Later

April 15, 2010

Well, here is my recollection of Friday, May 31, 1985, the day of the Eastern Ohio-Western Pennsylvania tornado outbreak, probably the biggest event to happen in my lifetime. It was this event that really sparked my interest in weather, especially thunderstorms and tornadoes. I remember that day vividly, and was eight years old at the time. There were about forty-three tornadoes that day, give or take a couple tornadoes, mainly affecting Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, along with parts of Western New York and Ontario, Canada. The strongest tornado of the day, an F5(top of the scale), started its destructive journey in Ohio around the area of Ravenna Arsenal, and it moved eastward and tore through Newton Falls and Niles(places I have been to), before crossing the border into Pennsylvania and pretty much wiping out Wheatland, just south of Sharon. This tornado continued through Hermitage before dying out right before entering Mercer. The tornado carried an airplane wing ten miles before dropping it. This was the strongest tornado in PA recorded history. Other communities in PA that were hit very hard by F4 tornadoes were Albion and Atlantic. It seems like places along PA Route 18 were really targeted that day. Other places hit by tornadoes were Tionesta and Kane, both in PA. The F4 tornado that tore through Moshannon State Forest in Central PA was at times TWO MILES WIDE!! And that wasn’t even the strongest tornado!! This particular tornado moved along Interstate 80 for a distance in the Moshannon vicinity, knocking down signs along that road. Could you imagine being on 80 at that time and seeing a tornado that big?? Fortunately, that tornado went through unpopulated areas around Moshannon, but it destroyed a large portion of the forest. A lot of tornadoes that day were of monstrous sizes.

Now, I’m going to talk about the tornado that affected my area, that being the F3 tornado that went across northern portions of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, and my recollection of that meteorologically amazing day, so here it goes…The weather was beautiful for much of that Friday, bright sunshine and clear blue skies, which was a VERY bad thing. The sun just makes the atmosphere more unstable, and GREATLY increases the chance for thunderstorms, so just keep that in mind in the future when thunderstorms are forecasted for a seemingly beautiful day. I always lived with my grandparents. My grandfather was away on a business trip in California. I had spent the morning and better part of the afternoon up in New Castle with my grandmother and my aunt(my grandparents’ daughter). The weather was clear and sunny that whole time. After dropping my aunt off at her old house in Frisco(just outside of Ellwood City) in the late afternoon, my grandmother and I headed for home. The weather had gotten cloudy by that time, but it didn’t look like anything ominous or threatening. It just looked like a gray, overcast day. We arrived back at our house in a good sized neighborhood, which is about a mile south of the intersection of PA Routes 65 and 588. My uncle(my grandparents’ son and my aunt’s brother)was up in his room watching “Smokey And The Bandit Part 3”. During this time, a Tornado Watch had been issued for our area. After the movie was over, my uncle was getting ready to go out with a high school friend of his. I turned on the radio to a then very popular Pittsburgh rock station(I’m not sure how popular it is now, as I don’t listen to it anymore). They played Don Henley’s “All She Wants To Do Is Dance”. I had to turn the radio off after that song, because my grandmother and I were getting ready to go back over to my aunt’s in Frisco. My grandmother and aunt were making ceramic coffee mugs that night(my aunt used to hold ceramic classes every week). My aunt came to pick us up, because my uncle was taking my grandmother’s car out to pick up his friend and go about their plans. My grandmother told him to be careful, because she knew about the Tornado Watch. Many years later, my grandmother told me that she had a funny feeling about that night. The weather was still cloudy when we arrived back at my aunt’s house, but after we got settled in, the sun came back out and the sky became clear again as I was watching my faithful cartoons. This was during the very early evening. After a while, I went with my other uncle(my aunt’s husband)into Ellwood City to pick up pizza at the local and still to this day very popular pizza shop. The weather had gotten cloudy again, but still nothing menacing looking. After we arrived back at my aunt’s house, a thunderstorm came in, but even then it wasn’t anything major. It was more like a little thundershower. The storm had been going on for a while when we got the phone call. My first uncle(the one who went out with his friend)called and told my grandmother that him and his friend was in a tornado. My grandmother didn’t believe him at all, because I guess he didn’t sound serious. He was actually laughing about it. My grandmother hung up(I’ll get back to my uncle and his friend)and just a short time later we started hearing about the tornado on my second uncle’s(the one married to my aunt)scanner. The storm outside quickly and dramatically intensified, as it became VERY severe. The sky looked like the end of the world was coming. I became petrified. I was never as scared as I was that night. I said to my grandmother “I thought we couldn’t get tornadoes. You told me tornadoes can’t happen here”. Looking back on it, I guess my grandmother thought that she was telling the truth. I think everyone in the region thought the same thing up until this happened. The funny thing was, my grandmother told me that tornadoes couldn’t happen here just a few weeks before this happened, as I was learning about these sort of things in school. I saw hail for the very first time that night. I saw these big balls of ice come crashing down on my aunt’s front porch. They were the size of golfballs. I asked my grandmother what were these strange things hitting the ground, and she told me it was hail. For years afterward, I got very nervous everytime I saw hail. I went out on the front porch and picked up a handful of the hailstones. I rubbed the stones all over my face. I even ate one. It tasted just like an ice cube. I guess I was fascinated by this newfound thing. Reports of the tornado came steadily over the scanner the rest of that evening. My aunt’s and second uncle’s three month old daughter was oblivious to what was going on. She was just sitting there smiling. My aunt and grandmother actually went about making those mugs at the kitchen table while this nightmare was going on. The mugs were very funny looking and uneven(but usable), as they were very nervous while making them. The raging storm outside finally moved on out right before dark. Before I go on, I’ll tell you what happened with my first uncle and his friend. They happened to be riding by the Big Beaver Plaza(just north of Beaver Falls) on PA Route 18 when the tornado struck there. The plaza sat on a high hillside above the Beaver River, with another high hill across Route 18 from the plaza above railroad tracks. My uncle and his friend were coming out of Koppel and going south towards Beaver Falls. My uncle was driving along in the car with his friend when they saw what they thought was train smoke up on the hillside, and then they quickly realized that this “smoke” was racing down the hillside towards them and the plaza. All of a sudden, the plaza roof came flying towards the car. My uncle and his friend ducked underneath the car seats right before the roof came smashing through the front windshield. Good thing for their quick thinking!! While the roof was smashing into the car, the tornado was spinning the car around like a blurred top (with them still inside!!)before slamming the car into a ditch off the side of the road. The tornado tore through the plaza. My uncle and his friend somehow got out of the demolished car and ditch as the tornado was crossing the river. My uncle said that the river actually parted like the Red Sea. AMAZINGLY, my uncle and his friend got out of it with bruises and embedded glass in their skin, which really felt itchy and jaggy, I was told. It’s AMAZING that they survived, AND without major injury!! As I said, the car was demolished. The plaza was destroyed. Two people died at the plaza, along with many injuries. It was 8:19 PM when the tornado struck the plaza. That’s the time a clock in an unscathed restaurant beside the plaza showed before it went dead. My uncle and his friend fled the scene. They were actually howling and laughing about it. My uncle found a phone and that’s when he called us at my aunt’s. My grandmother did not believe him until we started hearing about the tornado on the scanner, as I said before. Now, getting back to what was going on…As I said before, the storm finally ended right before dark. My grandfather was just arriving back at the old Pittsburgh Airport right after this happened. He had no clue as to what was happening. He saw all these ambulances and emergency vehicles racing towards our direction as he was getting into his car. He was wondering what that was all about. The aforementioned intersection right up the road from our neighborhood was hit very hard. Destruction everywhere you looked. An additional death and many injuries up in that vicinity. The tornado was visible from our neighborhood, but of course, we didn’t see it, because we weren’t there. The neighbors said it was huge. It could have been a multiple vortex tornado, because a neighbor told me that there were two smaller, skinnier funnels on either side of the tornado. All our neighbors said that they heard a very loud roar and they looked outside and there it was moving on by. Our next door neighbor tried to take pictures of it, but they came out fuzzy. Our poor little Yorkshire Terrier was home all alone when the tornado went roaring by. The poor thing was scared out of its mind. We always kept that dog in a playpen. It was so scared that it jumped out of the playpen, which was a very high jump. Had the tornado been just a little further south, our neighborhood would have been in bad shape!! It JUST missed us!! Of course, we were all VERY thankful that we were spared. It was bad enough seeing the devastation just up the road. Getting back to my grandfather, he still didn’t know what was going on as he approached our neighborhood, but he knew something happened. The police was out directing traffic. My grandfather asked them what happened. They told him that there was a tornado. The police allowed him to proceed into our neighborhood. The whole neighborhood was pitch dark(as our power was out for many days after). He came into our black house with our petrified dog running around panicked. My grandfather saw that nobody was home, and he quickly became worried sick about us. He was afraid that we were in it. He called over to my aunt’s to see if we were there. He was VERY relieved. Since my grandmother’s car was demolished, my grandfather had to come and pick us up. He eventually arrived. The sky was crystal clear by that time. The full moon was out shining brightly. It was as if nothing ever happened. We had to go on a pretty good detour to get home, because the road was blocked going to the hard hit intersection up the road from our neighborhood. Anybody who didn’t live in the immediate area of the intersection wasn’t allowed through. We were on a back road going up a hill with the Pennsylvania Turnpike running parallel down below it for a distance. While we were riding along this little road, we came across a house that was laying on its side. It was as though giant hands pushed the house over. We finally made it back home after clearing it with the police. My first uncle(the one who was out with his friend)was back home by that time. His friend’s(the one he was out with)mother brought him home. We all just sat there in the darkness and silence and talked about what happened that nightmarish night. We could hear the police talking on their walkie-talkies. That’s all anybody really talked about over the next few days. We went around and looked at all the damage for many days after. Miraculously, we were somehow able to get my grandmother’s demolished car back into shape and fixed. And right after the fixed car was picked up, it hit a deer and was totaled, and that was the end of the car.

My first uncle has since been in another tornado. On Tuesday, May 24, 1994, he was driving along in a severe thunderstorm on PA Route 8 going south right up above the Butler-Allegheny County line when a small tornado crossed the road right behind his car. The car really shook as the tornado passed by, but fortunately, my uncle and the car were left unharmed.

Getting back to ’85, we were one of the very last places to be hit that day. Most other places in Eastern Ohio and Northwestern Pennsylvania were already hit by the time it got here. I still have the newspaper of that event. I look through it from time to time. I also have the excellent book “Tornado Watch Number 211”, which is about this particular tornado outbreak. The book goes into great detail describing the events of that day. Very interesting and very sad at the same time. I used this book as a guide as I went through Atlantic and Albion on the way to Lake Erie(I go up there as much as I can during the summer months. The Lake is my favorite place in the whole world)two years ago. Of particular interest was Albion. I went through the hardest hit areas of that town, and where one of the most heartbreaking tragedies occurred that day. I’ve gone through there several times over the last two years, as I like to go the long way(PA Route 18)to the Lake and back when time allows.

I used to be scared to death of thunderstorms, but I’ve grown to love them. Personally, I don’t worry about the possibility of that happening again. Conditions were EXTREMELY rare that day. The frequency of something like that happening here is once every million years. It just so happened to occur during our lifetime. You still occasionally hear of tornadoes in Western Pennsylvania, but NOTHING of the magnitude of ’85. That was an unprecedented event, as far as the number and severity of the tornadoes are concerned. It was PA’s deadliest storms.

I think about that day all the time, as it will always be with me. It’s hard to believe that it will be thirty years(!!!!)coming up. Where did the time go?? I’ll close by saying that was LITERALLY one heck of a night!!

I am adding a link to the aforementioned newspaper…

Included in this newspaper are a couple pictures of the actual Beaver County F3 tornado. You have to go quite a ways into the paper to see the tornado pictures, but if you go far enough, you will come across the pictures.

Additionally, here are five-year anniversary stories in the newspaper…

One more thing from the newspaper, this being ten-year anniversary stories that includes a picture of the Beaver County tornado on the front page…

Also, here is a link to my Facebook group page about the outbreak…

On this group page, there are all sorts of pictures and videos relating to the outbreak, along with extensive coverage from several newspapers from back then. These are the actual newspapers from that time. Also, it’s a place for people to share and talk about their experiences.

In addition, here is a link to the also previously mentioned book “Tornado Watch Number 211″…

Here is  a link to a map where you can actually trace the actual tornado tracks from that day… However, I do question the accuracy of the tornado tracks depicted on this map, at least for the Beaver County tornado, as that particular tornado’s track was a little further south than what is shown on the map.

Also, here is a link to a map illustrating all the storm reports from that day…

Here is a link that really details the meteorological aspect of that day… Included in this are a list of the tornadoes, and the time duration for each tornado. In addition, there is also a simulation of what the radar would have looked like when the storms came through Western Pennsylvania that evening.

More blogs about my storm experiences will be coming soon, including the most incredible thunderstorm that I have ever seen, the time I was struck by lightning, and a very rare weather observation, along with other storm stories. Until next time.