Severe storm leaves area strewn with trees, without power

Authored by Jim Langham on Jul 2, 2012

There were a lot of cheers and sighs of relief around 5 p.m. on Saturday afternoon when power, which had been off for over 24 hours, returned to the city of Berne.
The outage had been a result of a massive severe thunderstorm packing winds estimated between 65 and 80 miles an hour that passed through the area around 3 p.m. Although dropping some much-needed rain, it also brought a trail of downed trees, power lines and some structural damage through portions of the area.
In addition, many portions of the county were without power for at least 24 hours and longer in some areas. Locally, most damage was confined to downed trees, some roof damage and downed power lines. However, in Geneva, just east of the High Street United Methodist Church, a huge tree fell on a home, breaking open the structure on the corners and causing considerable damage beneath the weight of the fall. As was the case in Berne, heavy debris damage occurred as trees fell on streets and wires.
"We had some roofing blown off of some of the stores downtown," noted Geneva town marshal Rob Johnson. "Then there was that house where the tree had caused a lot of damage. Other than that, it was about the same as everywhere else, a lot of cleaning up of trees and wires."
North and east of Berne, on Road 500, at least two barns were damaged. One belonging to the Sharp Farms suffered considerable damage.
Officials at the Fort Wayne International Airport have recorded a wind gust of 91 miles per hour.
Geneva Chamber of Commerce executive direct Pam Krause was one of many participating in the annual Chamber golf outing at the Golf Club of the Limberlost when the storm struck. Krause said that everyone ran for cover in the midst of sheets of rain and falling trees.
"I was on the ninth hole when the storm hit and I ran to the clubhouse," said Krause. "Trees and limbs were falling all over the golf course. I'm sure that they had to do a bunch of cleaning before golfers could get on the course again."
By Saturday morning, however, most of the debris had at least been pulled aside and golfing had resumed again.
Also on Saturday morning, electricity in Geneva was shut down when several residents reported sparks coming from lines. Krause declared at the time that a generator had already been secured to cook food for a downtown car show and that the show would go on in spite of the outage.
Adams County Emergency Management director John August noted that although damage was prevalent throughout the county, there were no serious injuries. Several county roads had been blocked at one time or another, but crews were working hard to clear roadways on Saturday.
Weather specialist Rick McCoy noted that Friday's surprise storm had occurred because of a slight shift in air masses, setting up the local area for what weather officials refer to as, "rim of fire," thunderstorms. Storms of that nature, McCoy said, occur across the northern part of a massive heat wave. The storms, which ride along the northern current of the heat wave, are often severe and sometimes extremely violent.
"We had that 106 degree reading on Thursday, which was in the core of that huge heat wave," said McCoy. "Then on Friday, although it was still hot, the core shifted just a bit south, leaving us in a vulnerable position for the violent storms."
McCoy noted that some of the worst damage occurred in the Fort Wayne area and in Van Wert and Paulding counties in Ohio. Those counties had been placed under a tornado warning when the storm took on strong rotation characteristics between Monroeville, Van Wert and Payne, Ohio. The weather specialist noted that a major portion of Van Wert County was without power and that it was reported that 98 percent of Paulding County was without power.
"Storm setups such as this are so hard to predict," said McCoy. "Most of these storms had been occurring in southern Wisconsin and Michigan, but the pattern shifted. I'm not sure if this trend will continue. If it does, we might get a little bit more moisture, but the drought is far from over. We are so far behind now that it would take between eight and 10 inches of rain to start bringing us out of drought conditions."
McCoy said that the extended forecast continues to call for well above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation through most of July.


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