Behind the National Weather Service’s Friday trip to the Valley

Local News

FOWLER, Ohio (WYTV) – The National Weather Service came to town Friday afternoon wanting to see storm damage. Friday night, the NWS released a report confirming an EF1 tornado touched down near Fowler Center, citing winds of up to 90 miles per hour.

Here’s a look at the National Weather Service’s trip to the Valley to survey the area.

It started last night, as meteorologists with the National Weather Service were also watching WYTV’s skycam footage, monitoring the storm as it rolled through.

“We made the decision to go on air with, ‘This is a storm we are watching,'” 33 Pinpoint Meteorologist Ryan Halicki said. “We’re keeping a close eye on this to push that alert out that something might be going on with this storm.”

Fast forward to Friday, as NWS meteorologists headed deep into Fowler. It actually took a four-wheeler to get them to where they could see the damage.

“This just confirms it — when you see that type of convergence in the damage signature itself,” Nick Greenawalt of the National Weather Service said.

What Greenawalt saw was the damage all converging into a single spot on the ground 150-yards wide — the classic sign of tornado damage.

The next step was determining how strong the winds were.

“A lot of these trees, these root balls here, very shallow in depth,” Greenawalt said. “It probably took a little less wind-speed than normal to uproot these trees, just because of the nature of the root ball and everything.”Photos: Severe Weather August 17, 2017

Brett Starcher led the tour into the woods. He knew right where to take the meteorologists.

He was watching the funnel cloud while his mom recorded it.

“We saw the funnel cloud and it just started building,” Starcher said. “And what it did is, the debris just started floating up in the air. And I knew it was a tornado because I had never seen nothing like that before.”

The National Weather Service strives for lead time so that people have time to take action based on its warnings. The goal is to try and get at least 15 minutes of lead time on the first touch down.

But Thursday night, there wasn’t even a tornado watch issued.

“However, because of the isolated nature of the storm, we didn’t need to issue a watch,” said Zach Sefcovic of the National Weather Service. “The storms weren’t very consistent, as far as being severe and producing damage.”

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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