High winds and heavy rain hit the area Sunday evening sparking tornado warning sirens to sound in Wapakoneta and the area after a tornado was reportedly spotted in southwest Auglaize County.
The storm cell caused tornado warning sirens to be activated for the Pusheta Township and Fryburg area, as well as New Knoxville, New Bremen and Minster.
Strong southerly winds blew most of the day, but expected heavy rain and winds prompted the National Weather Service in Wilmington to issue a severe thunderstorm warning at 5:15 p.m. Sunday for Auglaize County. That warning was later extended until 6:45 p.m. and the tornado warning issued until 5:45 p.m.
Wapakoneta Police Chief Russ Hunlock said there were no reported power outages or damage caused by the storm in the city.
Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon said throughout the county wind damage was reported with downed poles and trees, a roof and partial barn collapse, and power outages, but no other extensive damage.
He explained that anytime damage happens to someone’s property, it is serious to them.
A propane tank was re-
See WINDS, Page 8A
portedly knocked over at approximately 8:30 p.m. in the Uniopolis area by a tree that fell over at a home. The line from the tank was knocked loose, but no leak or other damage was reported.
Some customers of Midwest Electric and DP&L, in the southern part of the county, an area outside of Fryburg, and another area north of St. Marys were without power for between a couple to several hours. A section of Ohio 66 was shut down for a few hours due to a down power line.
Augalize County EMA Director Troy Anderson said this morning that all power had been restored with electric crews working through the night.
Rainfall amounts countywide ranged from less than half an inch between Cridersville and Uniopolis to more than 2 inches in the southern part of the county. Wapakoneta Wastewater Treatment Plant operators reported 0.5 inches of rain on Sunday and 0.6 inches on Saturday. Wapakoneta weather observer Dan Dietz reported 1 inch of rain on Sunday.
Minster reported 1.9 inches of rain during the storm and St. Marys reported 0.93 inches.
Anderson there were no other damage reports in this part of the county.
“That is good, when you compare it to places in Illinois,” Anderson said. “Those storms were supposed to track to us according to the National Weather Service. I’m glad by the time they got here the temperature had started to go down, so they died out before they got to us.”
Anderson said as he monitored conditions, he received reports of rotating clouds and wall clouds near Osgood.
He said a wall cloud — a large, localized lowering cloud formation that develops at the base of other clouds and often forms a tornado — was reported to be in the New Bremen, Minster and New Knoxville area, but he was near the location and never saw anything.
“We had some wind gusts of up to 62 mph,” Anderson said.
The heaviest gusts of wind, measured at more than 60 miles per hour, were reported in the St. Marys and New Knoxville area and lasted between 10 and 20 minutes, Anderson said.
What didn’t happen during the storm was the widely distributed photograph of a funnel cloud near Maria Stein. The photograph, which made it onto regional newscasts, was from a tornado that hit Saskatchewan in 2010.
“I was watching the skies about 3 miles outside and from what the photograph looked like and what the skies looked like, they did not match,” Anderson said. “It was later that we confirmed that they were false photos that were submitted by someone.”
Anderson said submitting false photos, even as a joke, can hinder response during storms, and he has discussed the situation with Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon.
“When we have that, it induces panic,” Anderson said. “In the heat of things, that speeds things up a bit.”
He said whenever they get photos they err on the side of caution, but once it was determined that no funnel or tornado was visible, the warnings were cancelled and sirens were silenced, except for the the one in the Pusheta Township area, which Anderson had continue until he could confirm there was nothing in that area as it had been in the projected path of the storm.
Anderson encouraged residents to purchase weather radios, scanners or download an app on smart phones to keep updated with accurate information during storms.
“You would be able to hear all the updates and notifications we put out during the storms,” Anderson said. “You’ll know exactly what is going on. There are a lot of free apps out there that you can download and receive notifications from the National Weather Service and other emergency agencies.”
He said he is hopeful this is the last storm of this type before winter snow hits.
Anderson plans to continue to review what can be done locally to improve communications and volunteer weather spotting to best warn residents.
“It’s always a learning experience,” Anderson said. “Weather is never the same.”
• The Evening Leader Managing Editor Mike Burkholder and Managing Editor William Laney contributed to this story.