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Straight line winds blamed for damage in Milan area

By Michael Harrington and Tom Jackson • Jul 5, 2019 at 1:00 PM

MILAN — The high winds from a storm that hammered Milan Tuesday afternoon came from a powerful thunderstorm, not a tornado, a National Weather Service meteorologist stationed in Cleveland said Wednesday.

The wind damage came from a downburst, straight line winds that came down from a thunderstorm and blew along the ground, said Patrick Saunders, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office at Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

“The very first thing we do is kind of analyze the environment,” Saunders said. “The certain parameters that are favorable for tornadoes weren’t present yesterday.”

The damage caused by the storm Tuesday suggests winds of 60 to 70 mph, perhaps even higher, Saunders said.

The brief but violent storm that tore through Milan Tuesday afternoon knocked over trees, tore off big tree branches and caused other damage.

In addition, storm damage forced park officials to keep visitors out of The Coupling MetroPark.

“At this time, The Coupling MetroPark is closed to the public as work to removed downed trees and assess overhead limbs continues,” said spokesman Ethan Unzicker. “The majority of the trails were impassible (Wednesday morning), however, Erie MetroPark crews have been hard at work and are moving methodically through the (property).”

The fallen trees blocked some of the park’s paths.

Saunders said reports to the National Weather Service revealed thunderstorm damage across a wide area of northern Ohio.

There were reports of trees down in Edison MetroParks and Berlin Heights, trees down in Norwalk and multiple trees and powerlines down in Wakeman, among other locations, Saunders said.

Saunders said hot, moist air Tuesday afternoon created conditions for the storms.

“That will create really strong thunderstorms,” he said.

Wind speeds in the downdrafts caused by microbursts can reach up to 100 mph, the National Weather Service said.

On Tuesday, hundreds of homes in Milan Township were without power, and the roads were scattered with debris from broken branches. The streets of Milan were lined with people assessing the damage left by the storm.

In the village, several of the trees in the square snapped at the trunk. An offshoot trunk coming from one of the square’s largest trees snapped off the main branch, crushing a park bench.

Nearby, The Wine Post lost several bricks from its roof due to the damage, but there didn’t appear to be any interior damage, and people were still drinking their beverages inside.

“It was a bad straight-line wind that just came through and started tearing things up,” said Joan Fisher, the co-owner of Crosstown Goods. “I thought the large tree in the square was going snap,” 

But, once the storm ended, she said people came together and helped clean up glass and clear branches from the road.

“It was a really nice thing to see,” Fisher said. “I was just sweeping and people came over and started helping.”

Homes also suffered significant damage. Dan Frederick, a Milan Township trustee, had a large tree crash onto his home after the wind uprooted it and the sidewalk onto it.

“We got a lot of winds and, unfortunately, this big, beautiful tree fell into my house,” Frederick said. “Luckily, no one was injured, and houses can be repaired and rebuilt, but it will take 100 years to replace a tree like that.”

Several roads were blocked off in the village and the township as crews tried to clear the roads, and more than 8,000 Ohio Edison customer in Milan were without power that evening. The roads have since been reopened.

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