WILMINGTON — A tornado, severe thunderstorms and high winds took out power lines, knocked down tree limbs and damaged property early Thursday.
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Wilmington confirmed a tornado three miles southwest of Wilmington in Clinton County, occurring about 3:19 a.m. Thursday.
The NWS’ preliminary category for the tornado was as a high end EF0, which means wind speeds in the higher end of 65 to 85 mph. The NWS estimated at least an 80 mph maximum wind speed for the Clinton County tornado.
In a public information statement, the NWS spoke of widespread damage across western and central Clinton County.
“Damage extends from the far west central border of Clinton County, with this damage initially appearing to be caused by straight line winds. Further east into the county along McGuinn Road, between Route 730 and U.S. 68, there was evidence of damage caused by a tornado. Substantial damage was sustained to a house and garage along McGuinn Road,” stated NWS.
Ron Morris, who, along with his wife, recently purchased a home on McGuinn Road, said his phone woke him up, he heard a loud commotion and, a couple of minutes later, “we had a drive through” instead of a garage.
No one was hurt and the home is insured, Morris said, but several items were damaged in addition to the home itself, including an antique motorcycle and a truck, among others.
The wall between the garage and the home’s kitchen was one of the only items holding up what was left of the garage.
Morris said they had made only one payment so far on the house.
“I think we lost between a third and a half of our house last night,” Morris said he told his boss. The roof, some supports, walls and part of the interior were damaged.
The Satterfield family, including two young grandchildren, started receiving severe weather alerts on their phones at about 3 a.m. Thursday.
“We scooped up the grandkids and we all gathered in the bathroom and in the tub,” said Daryl Satterfield. The ranch-style home is in the 2300 block of U.S. 22 West.
At around 3:30 a.m. he said he heard glass breaking and the cat ran through the house. A large tree had come crashing down from the back yard, on top of the roof, through the attic and even through a kitchen cabinet.
Damage was heavy, but no one was hurt.
“It could have been a lot worse,” he said.
A flash flood watch remained in effect in Clinton County until 6 p.m. Thursday, according to the NWS in Wilmington.
“Several clusters of strong to severe thunderstorms with torrential rainfall rates will continue to move across the watch area this morning and possibly again this afternoon,” the NWS warned Thursday, adding that it’s possible to have two to three inches of rain in a very short amount of time.
“Those living near small creeks and streams, which respond quickly to heavy rain, need to monitor rainfall and stream levels. Those traveling are encouraged to be alert for water over road … and turn around if water is indeed flowing over the road,” stated NWS.
The NWS also warned people to avoid low-lying areas and use caution when approaching highway dips and underpasses.
More than 2,000 customers were without power Thursday morning, according to Dayton Power & Light’s power outage map, and many Clinton County residents were without power in the early morning. Nearby Fayette and Warren counties were also hard hit with outages. Debbie Carity, a spokesperson for DP&L, said 22,000 customers were without power in all of the 24 counties in its service area.
A DP&L status update said 12, 80-foot transmission poles were down in the area.
At one point overnight, the NWS in Wilmington tweeted that it was “highly likely” that a tornado was on the ground and crossing into Clinton County. The storm was northwest of Cowan Lake State Park.
The NWS in Wilmington also confirmed a tornado 3.5 miles east of Washington Court House in Fayette County about 3:25 a.m. Thursday.
Three homes along the 3700 Block of U.S. Route 22 in Fayette County sustained structural damage, with one of the homes having significant roof damage. This damage combined with tree damage and evidence of rotation within debris confirm a tornado of at least EF0 strength in this area, according to the NWS.
The News Journal’s Tom Barr and Gary Huffenberger contributed to this story.