Sunday, May 30, 2010
Niles, Newton Falls Tornado of 1985
It was 25 year ago back on May 31, 1985. A tornado outbreak occurred in northeastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania and New York and portions of Canada. The most intense tornado touched down near the Ravenna Arsenal in Portage County and continued on the ground for almost 50 miles. It devasted Niles, Newton Falls, Hubbard, killed dozens of people and continued into Pennsylvania.
This tornado was an EF-5, the strongest of all tornadoes with winds of more than 300 mph and a width of a mile and a half. This was the last EF-5 tornado to hit Ohio and the first since the Xenia tornado outbreak back in 1974.
Thunderstorms began to develop in the late afternoon east of Cleveland as the temperatures rose into the middle 80s. The upper levels of the atmosphere were ripe with energy. For anoutbreak of severe weather to occur, you need a "dry slot" in the middle of the atmosphere.
This allows the super-humid to "rise" into air that isn't saturated. If the air in the middle of the atmosphere wasn't dry, storms couldn't have risen and blossomed into severe storms. In this case, the air was dry all of the way out to Missouri.
The storms didn't look that impressive from space.
By midnight that night, 21 tornadoes had touched town in Northeast Ohio along along with the only F5 tornado (the strongest) in the Unite States.
Here are some great links showing more specifics on the tornado outbreak. Special thanks to the NWS in Cleveland for the meteorology of that day and these additional sites for their photos and commentary.