The vertical extent of the storm was astounding as it moved across. These two developing supercells would grow into a pair of incredibly devastating, monster storms within the next hour - likely the most prolific tornado producers in Canadian history to date. Correlating to nearly $390 million in Canadian dollars by today's standard, it was a very expensive disaster indeed (LeGrand, 1990). The tornado caused major damage in the small town, where two people were killed. All eight of 1985's F4 tornadoes and the one F5 tornado happened during this outbreak. The tornado season of 1985 saw very little action in the winter months, and even the spring wasn't particularly notable until the massive May 31 outbreak, one of the most intense and deadliest in modern American history, which saw 43 tornadoes kill 88 people in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario, Canada. My Senior year in High School, when it came time to apply to colleges, I only applied to ones that offered Meteorology. The cold front moving east provided the lift as it pushed into the warm sector and the dewpoints into the 70s show the available moisture. I forecast for radio stations all over the United States and Canada with a few in PA. They were there to get everything ready for the Penn State Department of Meteorology’s 50th Anniversary Celebration and Reunion just two weeks later. ), This page was last edited on 15 June 2020, at 03:37. There have been very few times that Reda or her parents have come back to the site of their old home. Thank you! I will never forget seeing the isolated supercell responsible for the Moshannon tornado as it moved steadily east across the Allegheny Plateau, and trying to determine if it would remain north of Centre County and Penn State. The Erie WSO was in our zone area, and they had warning responsibility as far south as Venango, Forest, Elk and Cameron Counties. It's quite a privilege and honor to be entrusted by the public in this way (my research is primarily sponsored by the National Science Foundation and NOAA, i.e., taxpayer dollars). The visible satellite loop above shows the development and explosive growth of thunderstorms across southern Ontario, Ohio, western Pennsylvania and western New York on the afternoon of May 31, This two day series of Daily Weather Maps (courtesy NOAA/NWS) shows the eastward progression of the cold front; from near Chicago on Friday morning May 31, Precipitation looks like a hook on the radar returns; showing. One book led to another and another and another, and the rest is history. I expected to meet a PSP helicopter but instead an Army or National Guard helicopter arrived. I had just been promoted to lead forecaster in March of 1985. The morning of May 31st featured a great deal of electricity around the office. Still, hundreds more were left out of work largely as a result of the massive damage sustained to the industrial complex in Barrie. The staff routinely plotted the Pittsburgh RAOB [upper air observations collected via a weather balloon] at 12z and 00z and hung them on the wall at the office. In 1987 we went on a family picnic with him to Parker Dam and he took me on a little road trip through Moshannon State Park. I was ecstatic when I got my acceptance letter from Penn State University. rain, hail and sometimes debris caused by the tornado, spiraling inward around the tornado circulation. What they saw was a tornado that struck northern Beaver County. I still had the elastic bands around my pant legs to keep the ticks from climbing up my legs. They had their hunting camp in Clearfield County near Parker Dam State Park. Looking back, it all started the evening of May 31st 1985. A boy was killed in this area while trying to bicycle home (Bruineman, 2010). After issuing the early Convective Outlook, I went home to bed.  In more recent years this theory has proved to be incorrect; it is likely that this supercell was also a cyclic one. I wanted to travel to Marienville but all the roads were blocked by downed trees and the fireman advised that I should not attempt to get there. The extraordinary nature and location of this outbreak highlights the fact that tornadoes can strike anywhere and at any intensity given the right conditions. 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. I think that was the last tornado of the outbreak. He flipped on the scanner and I was listening to it also and hearing him pace back and forth. The outbreak lasted roughly from just before 3 p.m. EDT, when the first tornado touched down in Wiarton, Ontario, until around 12 a.m. EDT when the last reported tornado struck Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania. An F3 tornado spawned by Hurricane Danny struck Waco, Tennessee, and produced a damage swath that was 500 yards wide, making it the largest hurricane-spawned tornado ever recorded. When you hear the term “violent tornado outbreak,” you probably think of Tornado Alley or Dixie Alley, not Pennsylvania. Eight years after the event, the path of the nearly mile-wide monster storm remained nearly devoid of trees --- in stark contrast to the richly green forest surrounding it. The worst damage was found along Amaranth Street (running west to east, parallel to the tornado's path) where the local library, three churches, and many other homes were severely damaged or destroyed. The most severe was on the north side of the street, where some homes exhibited classic F4 damage. The fact that significant weather occurred did not take anybody by surprise, but the magnitude of what happened was unprecedented. Christi is from Allentown and currently lives and goes to school in Pittsburgh. This two day series of Daily Weather Maps (courtesy NOAA/NWS) shows the eastward progression of the cold front; from near Chicago on Friday morning May 31st …. May 31, 1985 Tornado Outbreak. I attended PSU for a B.S. The first of two F4 tornadoes to affect Erie County touched down just west of the Pennsylvania state line around 5 p.m. The entire trip took approximately 90 minutes and the amount of destruction and loss as viewed from the air was unbelievable. Please Contact Us. The second F4 that went through Corry in Eastern Erie County touched down at 5:25 PM. Steel girders were buckled at the shopping center, and a nearby retirement home and a skating rink were leveled as well. Bill was in the Air Force reserve, and I had been a weather officer in the Air Force between my BS and MS degrees from Penn State.