CLEVELAND, Ohio – A National Weather Service storm survey team of meteorologists confirmed today a weak tornado touched down Sunday in Summit County, but there was no tornado for the Stark and Portage counties’ warnings the same evening.
Monday’s storm survey findings
Meteorologists with the Cleveland weather forecasting office found the weak EF-1 tornado with 90-mph winds “produced damage to signs and a light pole at a Burger King on Manchester Road in Coventry Township. A car was flipped over in the parking area across the road near Wendy’s. Several tree limbs were broken off a tree.”
The team also evaluated damage in Twinsburg in Summit County, and found a downburst produced roof damage to the Amazon building on Independence Parkway. This downburst was estimated at 70 mph.
Both the sites were originally labeled as downburst damage, but the National Weather Service sent out a correction at 1:38 p.m. to clarify the Coventry Township damage was an EF-1 tornado after reviewing video evidence.
Watch the top right of the screen! Oh my! The National Weather Service just declared this was an EF1 tornado in Coventry Township. pic.twitter.com/pgf45hcd59
— Lacey Crisp (@LaceyCrisp) April 16, 2018
Where it all started
At 6:29 p.m. Sunday, National Weather Service meteorologists issued a tornado warning for the three counties, initially until 7:15 p.m. A warning means to take action as a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar, whereas a watch means the environment is merely conducive to forming tornadoes.
The warning was put into effect when a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was spotted on radar, meaning rotation was present. The storm was over Cuyahoga Falls when the warning was first issued, moving northeast at 25 mph. But that wasn’t the only cell looking like it could spawn a tornado; additional storms along the line of showers in Stark County also indicated some rotation.
The warning expired on time at 7:15 p.m., and no other tornado warnings followed.
Anytime a warning is issued, trained storm survey teams head to the scene of the potential tornado to determine if a funnel did actually touch down, or to see whether the damage was instead caused by something else, like a downburst or straight-line winds. Downbursts are a strong downward current of air from a cumulonimbus cloud, usually associated with intense rain or a thunderstorm, while straight-line winds are just very damaging winds that can reach up to 100 mph.
On radar, meteorologists can only see if there’s rotation, not how far the funnel is to the ground, which makes false warnings an easy mistake. A funnel cloud is only considered a tornado if it makes contact with the ground, no matter how close it is to touching. This is normally where volunteer weather spotters with the National Weather Service come in, but at night, it’s hard to spot a tornado with absolute certainty.
In this case, the storm survey team decided the resulting damage looked like that from a tornado in Conventry Township, but not for the damage in Twinsburg.
Further coverage from Sunday’s severe weather
Rain, waves and wind. What caused Northeast Ohio’s weekend severe weather
Erie Island flooding caused by rain, large seiche. What is it?
Keep checking cleveland.com/weather for daily weather updates for Northeast Ohio, and don’t forget to submit any weather questions you may have!
Kelly Reardon is cleveland.com’s meteorologist. Please follow me on Facebook, Twitter @KellyRWeather and Instagram.
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