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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Today Is 29th Anniversary of Tornadoes That Ravaged Ohio and Pennsylvania Killing 88 People

On May 31, 1985 a devastating group of tornadoes tore through Ohio and Pennsylvania causing death, injuries and destruction as they went. Kane, in McKean County, sustained 4 deaths as the tornado tore through the south end of Kane and hit East Kane directly obliterating that small community. 

The Tornado continued on crossing Route 219  and continuing across an area south of the McKean County Landfill across wooded areas crossing Route 155 south of the Village of Wrights. Trees were wiped out as if a giant vacuum cleaner had gone through. For years you could see along Route 155 where the tornado came over the hill from the Betula area and appeared to have stopped just past Route 155 South of Port Allegany. 

Other reports said there were thousands of dollars in tree damage in the Card Creek area near Roulette.

Tornado warnings were issued, but not really payed attention to because we don't get tornadoes in this part of the country. 

First realization of what had happened was hearing a dispatch on the scanner for police to investigate a house in the middle of the road near Avenelli's Garage. 

That caught our attention real quickly.

Subsequent radio communications gave indications of the seriousness of the damages. 

Papers blown out of houses in Cooperstown, Tidioute, Kane, and other western Pennsylvania towns were found dropped in lawns around Roulette & Coudersport. 

The weather bureau now classes the Kane tornado as an F-4. It was determined to be an F-5 in 1985.

 Devastation went up one side of hills and down the other side and was evidenced in the area just south of Penfield where a tornado crossed Route 153 from the top of one hill deep into the bottom of the valley and up the next hill, proving that the terrain of the hill country was not going to stop them or slow them down.

1985 gave us old timers a new respect for weather warnings, because tornadoes do happen in the Pennsylvania mountains.

...The worst Tornado Outbreak in PA history: May 31, 1985...
On the evening of May 31st, 1985, a devastating and deadly tornado outbreak struck the Northeastern United States and Canada. 41 tornadoes and numerous damaging thunderstorms tore across Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario Canada, killing 88 people in total, injuring more than 1000 others, and totaling more than $450 million in property damage.

In all, a total of 23 confirmed tornadoes touched down on the evening of May 31st, 1985 between the hours of 5:05 and 11:00pm across Eastern Ohio, Southwestern NY, and Central and Western PA. This outbreak remains the worst in recorded history for this area. Of these 23 tornadoes, 8 were of violent intensity (F4 or F5), with estimated wind speeds over 200 mph, and 9 of these tornadoes produced fatalities.

21 of these 23 tornadoes touched down in Pennsylvania, producing 65 fatalities and over $300 million in damages. To put this in historical prospective, the number of fatalities on the 31st nearly equaled the tornado fatality total during the previous 50 years (69). Furthermore, the F5 tornado that struck Wheatland, PA is still believed to be the strongest tornado to ever touch down in Pennsylvania.


Bob D said...

On June 1, 1985 I remembered picking up pieces of mail from the Post Office in Kame in my field on Crandall Hill outside of Coudersport. Bob D

Anonymous said...

And a partial hymnal from a church from Kane off of Dutch Hill in Coudersport.

Seldom Seen said...

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was my last day in
5th grade in kane. It was a awfull thing to go though.

Anonymous said...

If it was the church in East Kane, our house was right next door. Our car was in the basement