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Downburst Leaves Its Mark In Steelton

July 30, 2014
BY LAUREN MATTHEWS - Staff Writer ( , Wetzel Chronicle

Wetzel County Office of Emergency Management Director Ed Sapp stated that luckily there were no injuries from the powerful storms that swept through the area Sunday night.

"We are just lucky there were no injuries," he noted, adding, "and the trees that did fall, fell away from the homes."

Sapp noted that he was notified by the New Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department that there were approximately 20 mobile homes in AAA with some sort of damage, though he is "not sure if any of it was extreme damage."

Article Photos

This photo was taken from Dutch Run as the downburst was preparing to leave its mark on New Martinsville. (Photo by Tim Pugh)

"We had one (mobile home) on East Thistle that the tree uprooted and lifted the trailer onto its side," noted Sapp.

"It seemed like it was mostly a small band or something that came through the middle of New Martinsville," Sapp stated of the location of the damage. "There were broken branches and trees at the cemetery, and there was a power outage at the Towers. We had people on oxygen that were running low. The Red Cross was there."

Sapp stated that New Martinsville Police Department, NMVFD, and Wetzel County EMS were among those that responded.

It has since been determined that Sunday evening's storm damage in New Martinsville was not the result of a tornado, but a downburst. A preliminary local storm report released by the National Weather Service on Monday afternoon stated that the maximum wind speed of the weather event, which occurred around 5 p.m. Sunday, reached nearly 75 miles per hour. The report further states that the downburst began just west of the Ohio River in Monroe County and moved northeast with a path length near three quarters of a mile.

Valley Towing and Auto Repair and Auto Glass probably sustained the most damage in New Martinsville as it was virtually destroyed. The roof was removed and any recovery of equipment was put on hold Sunday night as the building was deemed unsafe. A local building contractor said it looked like the building was pressurized by the extreme wind entering the structure, causing the damage.

According to the National Weather Service, a tornado was confirmed near one mile south of Maxwell, W.Va., in Pleasants and Ritchie counties. The tornado touched down at approximately 7:15 p.m.. The total path length was determined to be about four miles, and it was rated an EF1 with maximum winds of 100 miles per hour.



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