MIAMI COUNTY — When Leanna Purkeypile saw her beloved cat take cover from the wind storm that hit her home on the evening of Feb. 20, she knew she had to seek shelter — and fast.
Purkeypile, who lives on Sayers Road outside of Troy, said she has lived in her home for 42 years and never in her life experienced the winds and damage from last week’s storm.
“I was watching the news and my phone went off with an alert. The cat knew better and took off down the hallway and it wasn’t a minute later that I heard a terrible roar,” she said.
“We’ve had high winds before, but nothing like this before,” she said Thursday morning as laborers cut down damaged trees in her neighborhood. “Everything happened so fast.”
The National Weather Service said three tornadoes touched down in the Miami Valley on Feb 20 and 21. An F-1 tornado was cited in Ripley County, Ind., an F-0 tornado in Phillipsburg and Kilborne, were cited in Ohio. A “broken-s signature” is a pattern often associated with weak tornadoes, developed as the line entered west central Ohio. This segment eventually produced an EF-0 tornado in Montgomery County.
On Thursday, National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Kurz said the straight line winds that struck the area last week was a strong squall line with areas of rotation.
“These weren’t like the classic tornadoes with the super cells that most people think of generally,” Kurz said Thursday.
Kurz said it was an EF-0 rated storm with winds from 65-85 miles per hour, which caused damage throughout Miami County last week.
Purkeypile lost the roof of her sun room, caused damage to the siding and her home’s fence when a neighbor’s trampoline was carried several hundred feet to her yard. She hasn’t received an estimate from her insurance company but she believes almost $15,000 worth of work will be needed to re-roof her house and replace her carpet, which was damaged when the ceiling leaked from the roof.
She said she watched the news as the storm drew closer and knew to take shelter once her cat took off down the hallway. She said her Smartphone alerted her of the incoming storm so she took shelter in her home’s bathroom.
“It’s very good to have that, I’m glad I had it on,” she said about her Smartphone’s severe weather alert.
Meteorologist Kurz said the Federal Communications Commission controls severe weather alerts like the one Purkeypile received last week.
The FCC began sending out alerts last year, Kurz said and said they are a great tool to raise awareness in times of severe weather.
“The FCC alerts are based on (the National Weather Service) warnings for severe weather like flooding or tornadoes and go off within the viewing area,” Kurz said. “They do raise awareness and it helps get the word out.”
Purkeypile’s neighbors, including Coreen Beck, all experienced a weather event for a life time.
Beck, who has experienced two hurricanes and the 1989 earthquake that rocked the San Francisco Bay area, said she has never been through a weather event like last week.
“I hope I never had to go through something like that ever again,” Beck said.
Beck said the pressure of the winds was so great, it drew the construction dust up from underneath the walls on to her floors last week.
“It was so strange and the pressure was so great … it was like a freight train roaring over head,” she said.Beck said she took shelter in her basement after she heard the sirens go off and prepared for the high winds which swept through her neighborhood that night.
All in all, while the neighborhood still cleans up, both Beck and Purkeypile said they were thankful no one was hurt.
“Everything can be replaced and rebuilt,” Purkeypile said. “I’m just lucky.”
Kurz said lower than normal temperatures will most likely be the trend throughout March and April — the two months that Ohio usually experiences its most violent storms.
“It’s not unusual for February, but because of the long, long winter, it was just out of the ordinary for this time of year,” Kurz said.
SPRING STORM SEASON AHEAD
A detailed list of how to prepare for Ohio’s ever changing severe weather is available online at redcross.org. Lists includes tips and safety guidelines to help prepare for disasters ranging from tornadoes, flooding and other events.
Review your home’s safe areas. If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative. Do not wait until you see the tornado.