Photo submitted by Rick McCoy
Photo submitted by Rick McCoy
VAN WERT — According to County EMA director Rick McCoy, county residents are continuing to clean up this week after a powerful derecho caused a path of storm damage through Allen County, Indiana, Adams County, Indiana and Van Wert County late last Monday, June 13.

The storm began as the merging of severe thunderstorms that formed off the southeast side of Lake Michigan earlier in the evening. The cluster (each individual severe storms) first appeared on the radar earlier in the evening. The cluster of storms merged and moved 70 miles per hour into north-central Indiana and then southeastward toward Fort Wayne, doing substantial damage in Whitley County and all-inclusive damage to the city of Fort Wayne before racing into Adams County and Van Wert County, Ohio.

Along the way, the strongest wind gust (98 miles per hour) in Fort Wayne weather history was recorded at Fort Wayne International Airport. That surge caused large amounts of downed trees, street lights and other widespread damage in that area. McCoy said that damage indications in both Van Wert and Adams counties indicated wind gusts in the 80’s at times.

“The strongest part of the storm entered Van Wert County in the Wren area, initially,” said McCoy. “There it ramped up and moved into the county. For a short time, it pulled down some but ramped up again, causing significant tree before Ohio 118, Wren-Landeck Road and in the area of Mendon Road.”

McCoy said that high winds caused trees to crash onto house roofs and in some places, bring down barns. He noted that there was clean-up required on some county roads.

The heart of storm damage in Adams County occurred from the entrance of Winchester Road off of I-469 to Decatur and the west side of that area. There, many trees were felled, some on houses and some smashed vehicles. Many county roads and streets north and west Decatur were blocked a large part of the day.

The previous strongest wind gust in Fort Wayne occurred on June 30, 2012, at 91 miles an hour. This gust was also caused by a derecho in the midst of a sweltering heat wave.

The National Storm Prediction Center officially declared the storm a derecho during its travel through Whitley, Allen, Adams and Van Wert County, Ohio. Golf ball sized hail and nuisance flooding were also reported.

Adams County Road Superintendent Brad Yoder said that a short time after the storm had passed through the county he received a call from the sheriff department reporting that county roads in the northern and western part of the county were blocked in many places.

“Winchester Road was a mess; the entire northern part of the county was a mess from the Wells County Line to Van Wert County,” said Yoder. “Our guys worked hard throughout the night to do all they could to open roads and passage ways so that workers could make it to work this morning.”

McCoy said on Tuesday afternoon that his county was also a mess, with fallen trees and structural damage in many places.

“It was really strong as it came in to the county by way of Wren and Convoy,”’ said McCoy. “It temporarily weakened for a few minutes and then it took on another punch further east in Van Wert County and especially in the Ohio City area where most residents spent the passage of the storm in their basements because of the intense roar of the wind.”

Besides the wind, another element of this storm was the non-stop intense flashing of lightning. McCoy said that he had just purchased weather equipment for his office that would measure the amount of lightning strikes in a half hour in an area up to a 30-mile radius of his office.

“In a half hour during the passage of the storm, it measured 12,500 strikes in a half hour,” said McCoy. “Everything was in place for a derecho such as this, intense heat, humidity, a high dew point and an ensuing powerful heat wave moving into the area.”