Auglaize County Emergency Management Director (EMA) Director Troy Anderson confirmed Thursday afternoon that an EF-0 tornado touched down east of New Knoxville late Wednesday night during the storm that ripped through the area.
After spending much of the day studying the damage of the storm and radar images available at the airport, National Weather Service and county officials confirmed the tornado touched down east of the village at Neil Armstrong Airport and continued on a 2-mile path east to right around Kettlersville Road. It was estimated that wind speeds during the tornado peaked in excess of 80 mph.
Anderson said officials determined part of that storm caused its peak damage down Plum Street in Wapakoneta, directly east of the Auglaize County Fairgrounds, as well as in parts of Union Township.
Anderson explained the damage on the eastern half of the county was caused by heavy straight-line winds, called microbursts, that were in the 60 to 65 mph range and possibly briefly reaching 70 mph.
“We were able to determine by the information available on radar images that the storm had no rotational value to it once it reached Wapakoneta and Union Township,” Anderson said.
Anderson explained there are a lot of factors that can make the storm more fierce in concentrated areas.
“It’s a matter of where the point is when the main front comes through,” Anderson said. “If it hits that cooler air area, then it’s a matter of where those lines happen to meet.”
Anderson said in surveying the damage from the storm, the tornado’s path left a 360-degree damage trail in the Neil Armstrong area. Damage surveyed on Plum Street and Union Township was in a straight line, or pushed straight forward.
Damage helps officials determine what hit each area.
While the storm caused damage throughout the county, the most damage was concentrated in the more populated area of Plum Street in Wapakoneta.
Plum Street was still a busy area of activity well into the afternoon Thursday, as workers with the city of Wapakoneta and local residents removed debris, cut down trees and threw limbs into shredders.
Ivy and Joseph Metzger, 610 Plum St., were awakened by a 5-inch diameter limb crashing through their bedroom and landing less than two feet away.
“It was very loud,” Joe Metzger said. “It came right through the house and landed right beside us.”
Metzger said 2- by 4-inch boards in the framework of the home deflected the tree away from his wife.
“If the two-by-four had not had deflected it, it would have hit my wife,” Metzger said.
Metzger said the only other property damage incurred at his home was minor damage to a fence in the yard and a few strips of siding had been blown off.
Jack Economous had an entire section of a neighbor’s roof laying in the east end of his yard and three trees were knocked down on his property. One of the falling trees knocked windows out of his truck and caused several scratches and large dents in the right side of the vehicle.
“I don’t know how, but I slept right through it,” Economous said as he surveyed the damage at his property. “I woke up and found this.”
Economous escaped having his boat parked in his driveway from being totally destroyed by the positioning of a guy wire. A tree knocked down by the wind was heading straight for his boat, only to miraculously be suspended in air by the wire, just inches from the boat. The guy wire was still supporting the large tree 15 hours later.
Moments before the storm, Ed Rohrbach, who lives at 713 W. Plum St., said the members of his household retreated to a relative’s home on Dearbaugh Avenue.
They returned to find a neighbor’s large iron-structured gazebo laying beside his home. Rohrbach said they decided to go to the relatives home since they had a basement.
The Auglaize County Fairgrounds was also a busy hive of activity.
Fairground Secretary Fred Piehl said there was plenty of cleanup work to be done.
“We are working now on cleaning up and repairing all of the damage,” Piehl said.
He said damage included large parts of roofs removed from buildings, doors blown off of buildings, and numerous trees down on the grounds.
Several falling trees caused damage to power lines and fences throughout the grounds. Piehl said the old dairy barn had major roof damage.
“It appears there was no structural damage to any of the buildings,” Piehl said, “but we have our work cut out. It appears there was not quite as much damage as last year’s storm, but it was still pretty intense.”
Trim, vents, and pieces of spouting were also spread throughout the grounds. Piehl said a dollar estimate has not yet been placed on the damage.