Rutledge: High winds produced by F1 tornado

CALCUTTA — The high winds that destroyed a garage and damaged the roof of the Calcutta YMCA were from a tornado, according to the National Weather Service.

Brian Rutledge, deputy director of the county Emergency Management Agency, said the NWS issued a preliminary report Monday stating the Sunday night storms that swept through the county spawned an F1 tornado in the Calcutta area of St. Clair Township, packing winds of up to 90 mph. This was based on NWS radar information and other data and damage observed at the scene by an NWS official and Rutledge.

Rutledge said the tornado occurred at the top of Calcutta-Smith Ferry Road and continued for a mile eastward over the hill into Calcutta, basically following the path of the road. The only major damage was to a garage at 48343 Calcutta-Smith Ferry Road, which was destroyed, and the adjoining house lost about a third of its shingles. Other homes reported losing shingles and other minor damage.

In Calcutta, the tornado damaged the YMCA roof, dislodging HVAC units and pulling loose some lines.

Rutledge said the tornado was not very wide, and he does not know if it ever touched down. Most of the damage was limited to downed trees, branches and power lines. While the rest of the county also experienced high winds and heavy rains, Calcutta appeared to be the hardest hit.

This is the first confirmed tornado in the county since July 23, 2013, when an FO tornado packing winds of winds up to 75 mph, uprooted trees near Summitville. Tornadoes are ranked in severity on a scale from FO to F5, with the latter producing sustained winds of 261 to 318 mph.

Sunday’s tornado is the 17th in the county since 1955, according to state records. The biggest in terms of wind speed was the F3 tornado (winds 158-206 mph) of Oct. 12, 1978, which caused little damage. The worst in terms of damage was the F2 tornado of May 31, 1985, which left 20 people injured and damaged or destroyed 63 homes, That tornado packed winds up to 150 mph and traveled 35 miles across the county, touching down in at least four locations.

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