Weather left damage but no injuries behind


City officials did not
activate safety sirens.

By D.A. WILKINSON

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

SALEM — Salem may have dodged an F-1 tornado.

Wind hit the east end of town about 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

No injuries or deaths were reported, according to Salem safety forces and the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency.

The National Weather Service put Mahoning and Columbiana counties under a severe thunderstorm warning Thursday evening, but most of the area just received heavy rains with no other wind damage.

Darren Dodson, the Columbiana County EMA director, said he was waiting for federal officials to determine the strength of the winds.

An F-1 tornado can have winds in excess of 100 mph.

One trained weather spotter in Salem said a tornado hit the city’s east side, but another spotter, who was at the scene, said “no way,” Dodson reported.

He said there was nickel-size hail during the storm.

The damage

An undetermined number of vehicles were thrown together by the afternoon’s high winds in the parking lot of the Giant Eagle grocery store. Many of the vehicles were quickly removed with tow trucks.

Fire Chief Walt Greenamyer said about 200 vehicles in the store’s parking lot had glass damage. At least one window at the store was broken.

Dodson said there were no reports of injuries elsewhere in the county.

The trim on the covering above the Salem Get Go service station beside the store was damaged. There was slight damage to the roof of a Bob Evans restaurant on East State Street just west of the gas station, and several trees on the property were knocked down.

Greenamyer said either a minitornad or a microburst, or downdraft, hit the area. A microburst is a strong blast of wind moving downward.

That wind knocked down a pole and electrical transformer that damaged a large propane tank behind Giant Eagle. The area was evacuated to vent the gas. Safety forces sealed the tank.

Sounding the alarm

City safety forces did not sound an emergency siren.

Firefighters said the police activate the siren. Police Sgt. John Less said the city had received weather reports of a severe thunderstorm warning. He said the city doesn’t activate the sirens unless conditions are worse.

State Rep. Linda Bolon and Columbiana County Commissioner Penny Traina were heading toward a meeting when they heard about a storm. Bolon took photos of the damage to document it.

She said she heard several people only “had scrapes and stitches.”

Salem Community Hospital, located west of the plaza area containing the three structures, had minor damage, Dodson said.

Leetonia officials reported multiple trees down and responded to a barn fire.

There were no reports of any wind or storm damage in either Mahoning or Trumbull counties, or in Mercer or Lawrence counties in Pennsylvania.

Dennis Bray, of the National Weather Service in Cleveland, said Mahoning and Trumbull County received 1.2 inches and 1.8 inches of rain, respectively, in the 12-hour span between 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

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