By Ed Runyan
Officials with the National Weather Service say they have confirmed at least one tornado touchdown occurred Thursday night in Trumbull County.
But it’s in Fowler Township along state Route 193 and not several miles east along state Route 7 where they initially had indicated.
The NWS said the tornado moved through from 7:11 to 7:21 p.m. and was to the north-northwest of Routes 193 and 305. It knocked down at least 100 trees, uprooted at a residence just west of Route 193 north of Fowler Center; and caused some damage to a mobile home.
The tornado had maximum wind speeds of 90 miles per hour and was classified as an EF-1, the second-lowest number on the Enhanced-Fugita Scale. The highest is EF-5. It had a path length of 1.25 miles and a maximum width of 250 yards.
On Thursday night, the NWS had believed that a weak tornado touched down at 7:18 along Route 7.
Capt. Mike Hagood, who is full time with the Brookfield Fire Department and part time with the Vienna Fire Department, said he followed all three storms that passed through the county starting around 7 p.m., staying a half mile from them. He finally stopped chasing storms about 10:30. At the end, he was in Pennsylvania.
Hagood said the most serious damage he saw was in the area the National Weather Service mentioned, north of Route 305 along Route 193 in Fowler Township.
Hagood said the ominous appearance of the dark, low-hanging and swirling cloud formations made him believe that a tornado was likely. It’s one reason he followed the storms so long.
“I’ve never seen a storm that had that potential” for a tornado, he said. “It looked like at any moment, it would send something down.”
It appeared that way to a lot of other people, too. Rob Oliver, an employee at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, used his phone to video record several segments of storms and post them on his Facebook page.
“It is literally right above our head and spinning,” he said, showing a storm coming toward the airport from the southwest. The sound of the wind in the video became very loud.
Shortly thereafter, he and co-workers drove quickly from the airfield to seek safety.
His videos showed massive, dark clouds close to the ground with parts that appeared to swirl and reach down toward the ground. It is believed the workers’ observations were reported to the NWS, which mentioned them in a news release.
One of the hardest-hit locations for damage was the home of Pat and Linda Arnal, who live at the end of a long driveway east off Route 193 in Fowler. Their home is just north of Route 305.
When the warning sirens went off and the winds kicked up Thursday night, Linda and Pat gathered up the three grandchildren they were watching and took them to the basement.
“We could just hear a lot of noise. I was just trying to reassure them so they wouldn’t be so scared,” Linda said of the grandchildren.
A short time later, the power went out.
When the storm had passed a little later, the Arnals discovered that 11 of the trees along their driveway had been toppled, several of them across the driveway.
Pat, who is the Fowler Township road superintendent, used a tractor to pull trees off of the driveway and started cutting with a chain saw.
Linda later found flower pots from the front porch in the backyard, with the flowers still on the front porch. Numerous pieces of patio furniture had been tossed around the property.
On the other side of Route 193, trees fell on two properties, one of which knocked down a power line. A huge tree fell in the backyard of a home just across the street from the Arnal property.
One tree north of Yankee Lake in Hartford fell across state Route 7, but Hartford Township officials said they were not aware of any other damage in Hartford. County officials also say they are not aware of any damage to homes or injuries resulting from the storm.