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locomusic01

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I'm pretty sure the tornado took down a fire tower and maybe some transmission towers that were in the forested areas, but not sure. Those would be more examples of man-made structures although I'm not sure how far into the forest they were. What's incredible is that the damage path from this thing is still visible from satellite 30+ years later and there are parts of the parks that are still completely devoid of trees from this thing; did this tornado lead to any permanent closings of public trails in the area?
Yeah, toward the end of the path it toppled the Coffin Rock fire tower. A lot of the trails eventually reopened (after tons of manual labor) but some were either altered or closed because the landscape had just been so devastated that there wasn't really much point in hiking it anymore. I also noticed in poking around Google Street View that there's a section of road near Penfield (don't recall exactly where but probably Rt 153) where you can still see the path the tornado took. There's a steep drop-off along one side of the road and the trees are large and thick all along it except in one area where it's very noticeably thinned out. Kinda neat.
 

locomusic01

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On a different note, here's another (admittedly not that great) example of how most of the photos you usually see from an event don't really capture the things that are most indicative of a high-end tornado. There's always been a lot of talk about how there doesn't seem to be much vegetation damage from 5/31/85, especially in Niles-Wheatland, despite the tornado being seemingly very violent. In reality, there was pretty extensive debarking/denuding in some areas, as well as some ground scouring, but it just wasn't documented very much for whatever reason.

Anyhow, getting to the point. This picture I got from a guy today shows him and some friends standing in front of the Hotel Shenango in Wheatland.

in-front-of-hotel-shenango-bud-clarke.jpg


The hotel is off-screen to the right, which is really unfortunate because it was a huge hotel that was completely leveled. This was pretty much dead center of the most intense damage swath (corner of Rosedale & Main if anyone's curious). You can see to the right a tree that's been almost completely debarked & denuded, and he and several other people have told me that many of the trees in this swath suffered even greater damage. A woman who lived a few blocks away said that some of the trees looked like they'd been ravaged by termites or something - not only had they been stripped bare but parts of the trunks themselves had sort of been splintered into wood chips.
 
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On a different note, here's another (admittedly not that great) example of how most of the photos you usually see from an event don't really capture the things that are most indicative of a high-end tornado. There's always been a lot of talk about how there doesn't seem to be much vegetation damage from 5/31/85, especially in Niles-Wheatland, despite the tornado being seemingly very violent. In reality, there was pretty extensive debarking/denuding in some areas, as well as some ground scouring, but it just wasn't documented very much for whatever reason.

Anyhow, getting to the point. This picture I got from a guy today shows him and some friends standing in front of the Hotel Shenango in Wheatland.

in-front-of-hotel-shenango-bud-clarke.jpg


The hotel is off-screen to the right, which is really unfortunate because it was a huge hotel that was completely leveled. This was pretty much dead center of the most intense damage swath (corner of Rosedale & Main if anyone's curious). You can see to the right a tree that's been almost completely debarked & denuded, and he and several other people have told me that many of the trees in this swath suffered even greater damage. A woman who lived a few blocks away said that some of the trees looked like they'd been ravaged by termites or something - not only had they been stripped bare but parts of the trunks themselves had sort of been splintered into wood chips.

At 2:37 you can see a before and after of the hotel, the tallest structure in town.


The thing about the trees is incredible, the only other time I'm aware of the trunks themselves between damaged that extreme is with Smithville. A picture of that is below:

Smithville_4.jpg

I think ground scouring and vegetation damage is something that is easily overlooked by most people since they aren't trained damage surveyors. I'd love to find official damage surveys for this (and many other tornado events) as they likely have a bunch of photos not easily available but not sure how to go about that.
I think the thing with Niles-Wheatland is that due to its core being so tiny, there wasn't much room available for ground scouring or vegetation damage, and the few times it did occur it would've been highly selective and extremely narrow, the only other tornado with such a tiny core that I'm aware of in relation to the size of overall circulation is Plainfield, and that thing was nowhere near as intense as Niles-Wheatland.
 

locomusic01

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At 2:37 you can see a before and after of the hotel, the tallest structure in town.


The thing about the trees is incredible, the only other time I'm aware of the trunks themselves between damaged that extreme is with Smithville. A picture of that is below:

View attachment 10430

I think ground scouring and vegetation damage is something that is easily overlooked by most people since they aren't trained damage surveyors. I'd love to find official damage surveys for this (and many other tornado events) as they likely have a bunch of photos not easily available but not sure how to go about that.
I think the thing with Niles-Wheatland is that due to its core being so tiny, there wasn't much room available for ground scouring or vegetation damage, and the few times it did occur it would've been highly selective and extremely narrow, the only other tornado with such a tiny core that I'm aware of in relation to the size of overall circulation is Plainfield, and that thing was nowhere near as intense as Niles-Wheatland.
Yeah, so far the NBC video is the only ground-level view I've been able to find of the hotel itself. It's easier to find photos of the hotel around the time it was built than after the tornado - go figure lol

hotel-shenango-2.jpg


I've found several people who have photos of it (and lots of other stuff), but it's like pulling teeth getting people to actually follow through and find + send them. That's actually been one of the most time-consuming things. And then even when people do come through with photos they don't always know what they are/where they were taken, so that means spending even more time trying to match up views on Google Earth, comparing against known photos, asking around to other people I've talked to, etc.

On the bright side, I did finally manage to clear up one of the weird things that's been bugging the hell out of me. I thought I'd accounted for every death from the outbreak (who they were, where they died, etc) but a number of people and newspaper reports kept mentioning that a woman was killed in the house that was swept away over near the Ashland refinery in Niles (where the huge tanks were thrown around). A man lived there with his adult daughter at the time and, after tracking down a family member, I found out that it was erroneously reported that she'd been killed and I guess just never got fully corrected. So, at least that's settled.

Re: official damage surveys, which tornado(es) are you referring to?
 
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Yeah, so far the NBC video is the only ground-level view I've been able to find of the hotel itself. It's easier to find photos of the hotel around the time it was built than after the tornado - go figure lol

hotel-shenango-2.jpg


I've found several people who have photos of it (and lots of other stuff), but it's like pulling teeth getting people to actually follow through and find + send them. That's actually been one of the most time-consuming things. And then even when people do come through with photos they don't always know what they are/where they were taken, so that means spending even more time trying to match up views on Google Earth, comparing against known photos, asking around to other people I've talked to, etc.

On the bright side, I did finally manage to clear up one of the weird things that's been bugging the hell out of me. I thought I'd accounted for every death from the outbreak (who they were, where they died, etc) but a number of people and newspaper reports kept mentioning that a woman was killed in the house that was swept away over near the Ashland refinery in Niles (where the huge tanks were thrown around). A man lived there with his adult daughter at the time and, after tracking down a family member, I found out that it was erroneously reported that she'd been killed and I guess just never got fully corrected. So, at least that's settled.

Re: official damage surveys, which tornado(es) are you referring to?
In terms of official surveys, I wasn't aiming for any specifically; I meant the official damage survey, as opposed to stuff in Storm Data, as not everything is easily available via NOAA and the like.
 
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Moshannon? It's hard to say just because there were so few manmade structures in the path. It definitely did violent damage in the Winterburn/Penfield area, which is pretty impressive since that was only a few miles after touchdown. That was before it exploded in size though, and after that point I actually wasn't able to find any substantial, well-built structures that it struck directly. It damaged a bunch of camps and hunting cabins and totally demolished some of them, but they weren't exactly the sturdiest of buildings from what I can tell.

I didn't find a ton of evidence of debarking, ground scouring, etc. but I'm not sure you'd even expect to see that in such thickly forested areas. One thing that does seem fairly impressive to me is that it passed through a few areas of old-growth hardwood forest with very large, mature trees and still managed to virtually clear-cut them. I spoke with a man who did some surveys for the state DCNR after the tornado and he said there was an area in Clinton County in particular where, to paraphrase, there was nothing left standing above roughly head height in a large grove of old-growth hemlock. That takes some pretty serious power.

..Which I guess is all a very long-winded way of saying that I haven't come across anything to suggest it was extremely violent, but I'm not entirely certain I would have even if it was. My own personal opinion is that it probably was capable of producing a huge swath of strong damage and likely spotty areas of violent, but its peak intensity wasn't really what made it so remarkable. I'd say there were likely a half-dozen other tornadoes that day that were more violent based on the evidence that's available.
Perhaps you'll answer this in your article, but do you know the most reliable estimate for how many trees this thing downed? Grazulis says 88,000 but I don't think that's right given that this thing went through nothing but dense forest for ~70 miles and the 1987 Yellowstone tornado had a path length of only 24 miles but managed to down a million trees or so.

This article claims the tornado devastated 10,024 acres and caused 5 million in timber damage, and also claims it demolished 76 miles of trails and closed 22 miles of state roads. Perhaps the 76 is a typo but the rest of the statistics seem accurate, not entirely sure.

 

TH2002

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Some Cullman-Arab damage photos I found

This aerial of downtown Cullman speaks for itself:
1200x0.jpg


Cullman-damage-gas-station.JPG
Gas station destroyed. The building on the property was leveled, the sign was twisted off its base and gas pumps were ripped from the ground and remained missing at the time of the survey.

Cullman-trailer.JPG
Trailer left in pretty bad shape after being tossed for 100 yards

Arab_AL_tornado_damage_20110427-71.jpg

Some possible ground scouring? Or maybe the site where a mobile home stood or just vehicle tracks. I am not sure what to make of this one.

Another photo that shows something similar
Arab_AL_tornado_damage_20110427-73.jpg


Supposedly this tornado did in fact sweep away at least one well-bolted home in the Arab-Ruth area (not to be confused with that one home), but without photographic evidence I have to chalk it up to a rumor. If it did happen I really hope someone has some photos to share.
 

andyhb

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Cullman had a surprisingly (well, maybe not so surprisingly given the video) intense path through the core of the city regarding degree of damage. A lot of larger structures were very heavily damaged or completely destroyed. Certainly a tier above other similar cases such as West Liberty KY in 2012.
 

Austin Dawg

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The thermal boundary those supercells (Hackleburg, Smithville, as well as Cullman) were riding made an environment already primed for several violent/long tracked tornadoes even more unprecedented. Truly a nightmare set up.
View attachment 10418
So that Hackleburg storm came out of Monroe County MS too? There was another tornado warned storm after these two that went right by the doppler radar site. I think looking at this that all three formed along that bend of the line but I will have to go back and look at the radar loop to confirm. I think there may have been another that started there but it might help explain why that storm put down a long track F5 starting in that area.
 

TH2002

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The Hodonin tornado from this year was just insane. (Some cleanup might have taken place in some of the photos)
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The photo of the slabbed homes was taken on June 27, three days after the tornado, so there's a fair chance those homes were actually swept away by the tornado and not clean-up crews.
 

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This one was actually initially rated EF2 and was later upgraded. Ridiculous, I know. But these photos should be used as a reference for what EF4+ tree damage looks like. It doesn’t get any more textbook that.

Any time someone says that this type of debarking is consistent with EF3 damage (less prevelant these days thankfully), I challenge them to find a photo of this type of tree damage immediately next to genuine EF3 structure damage with walls still standing (ie not default EF3 in which the structure is leveled and higher winds potentially could have occurred). You know how many examples of this I’ve been provided? Zero. Nobody has been able to produce such a thing, because it doesn’t happen. 85-90% debarking is a phenomenon that is absolutely unique to violent tornadoes. The scale needs to be adjusted to account for this.
 

buckeye05

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The photo of the slabbed homes was taken on June 27, three days after the tornado, so there's a fair chance those homes were actually swept away by the tornado and not clean-up crews.
Looks almost too clean though, and I see wheelbarrows and evidence of debris removal. The full flyover the damage path on YouTube doesn’t show any clean sweeps either. I suspect this may have been taken in Panov near the end of the path, where some homes were leveled and the debris was quickly cleaned up, leaving bare slabs just a day or two after the tornado.

Could totally wrong about that though.
 

TH2002

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Looks almost too clean though, and I see wheelbarrows and evidence of debris removal. The full flyover the damage path on YouTube doesn’t show any clean sweeps either. I suspect this may have been taken in Panov near the end of the path, where some homes were leveled and the debris was quickly cleaned up, leaving bare slabs just a day or two after the tornado.

Could totally wrong about that though.
I just did some more research - the photo is from Pánov. So you appear to be correct.

On another note, here is a tractor left in pretty bad shape after the tornado in Pánov:
P%C3%A1nov_%28Hodon%C3%ADn%29_after_2021_South_Moravia_tornado_strike_%2820%29.jpg
 

MNTornadoGuy

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The 5/14/2021 China tornado outbreak is well known but there was a second potentially larger part of the outbreak the day after. According to our weather enthusiasts from China who are on this forum, there were 7-13 tornadoes with at least one possible significant tornado that struck the city of Yueyang, where brick homes were damaged and destroyed.
getInterUrl

 

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