Washington Evening Journal
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Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 21, 2017

Storms pound Washington County

By David Hotle | May 18, 2017
First photo: A tree reportedly toppled onto a house in the 1100 block of North Marion Avenue in Washington Wednesday evening when a strong storm blew through town bringing 70 MPH winds. Second photo: Rural Wellman resident Jim Flanigan works on a downed tree limb at his residence Wednesday afternoon.

In examining the damage left by fast-moving storms that blew through Washington County Wednesday afternoon and prompted two tornado warnings, Washington Police Chief Greg Goodman said there was no sign of rotation and the damage appeared to be caused by straight-line winds.

According to the Washington County Call Log, calls about weather damage began to come in at 4:38 p.m. from Wellman and West Chester. It was later, at about 6:30 p.m. during the second wave of storms to move through the area, that numerous reports began coming in from Brighton and Washington. Reports were mostly of downed trees, some of which fell on vehicles, houses or power lines.

“The first wave went north of us and the second one hit us,” Goodman said. “Whitesell lost part of its roof. It looks like straight-line winds to me. There is no twisting to the branches. There was a tree uprooted on North Marion that took a garage out. The major damage was really spotty. I think it was wind shears.”

Goodman also said there were incidents of power losses in Washington due to the storm. Statewide, over 25,000 residences lost power. No injuries were reported locally as a result of the storm. Statewide, one person was killed near Parkersburg when a tractor-trailer flipped.

According to the National Weather Service, fast moving severe thunderstorms developed and tracked over much of eastern Iowa, northwest Illinois, and northeast Missouri, as an area of low pressure lifted northeast into northwest Iowa. Widespread damaging winds, large hail, frequent lightning, and a few brief tornadoes were reported. Surveys will be conducted today by NWS survey teams at possible tornado locations. The results of these surveys will be made available as soon as they are completed.

Storm spotters reported wind gusts of up to 70 mph. Outdoor warning sirens were activated twice during the afternoon throughout the county to warn residents of the coming storms. Goodman said the sirens are activated based on information from the National Weather Service.

Goodman said it is a good idea when storms of this kind come in to know where to go to seek shelter. He also said people should install the WENS system on their smartphones or have a weather radio that would allow them to keep current on the situation.

Washington County Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Smith said today that there were two unconfirmed reports of funnel clouds that had touched down near Richland. After the storms, Smith went out to survey the damage. He said that in the western rural areas of the county, some outbuildings had sustained damage to roofs and many trees had fallen.

“There were already volunteers cleaning up,” he said. “My concern is always that a house is damaged so the owners can’t live there. We have to assist them in finding a place to stay.”

He said the National Weather Service had done a good job predicting the storm as well as predicting that multiple rounds of the storm would move through the area.

According to the National Weather Service, more thunderstorms are predicted tonight, but not of the intensity of Wednesday’s storms.

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