Tornado Index # 19850531.39.10

 
 
 

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Disclaimer |?|

Note: This approximate tornado path has been generated from data provided by the SPC.

The Tornado History Project generates approximate paths through separate historical archives provided by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Paths generated from the NCDC data are typically more detailed, but neither archive gives exact path information. There are several reasons that paths may be inaccurate:

  • Tornado touchdown and liftoff coordinates were recorded with only 2 digits of decimal precision (i.e. [33.72, -86.15] vs [33.71689, -86.15463]). As a consequence, the observed points on the map may be slightly off from actual. Note that beginning in 2009, up to 4 digits of decimal precision are given.
  • Coordinates have not historically been calculated via GPS (Global Positioning System). Thus, tornado touchdown and liftoff coordinates should be considered as estimates only.
  • Tornadoes may not have been in contact with the ground for the entire path as depicted on the map. Storm damage in any location depicted under the "path" should not be inferred.
  • Although paths are drawn as straight lines between any two sets of coordinates, the tornado may have "zigzagged" in some way.
  • Although paths are drawn as uniform thin lines on the map, it is likely that the tornado changed size over its lifetime. Damage in any location depicted under (or not under) the "path" should not be inferred.

Even with the above in mind, the data is the best available. If you see a path that is depicted incorrectly, please post a comment in the tornado forum indicating why you belive the path to be incorrect.

Paths generated from NCDC data are typically more detailed due to the way coordinates are listed in each archive:

  • SPC database - A maximum of 2 coordinates (touchdown and liftoff) is given for each tornado, or each state segment of a tornado if it is a multi-state tornado. Thus the vast majority of paths are depicted as simple straight lines.
  • NCDC database - Some tornadoes have mutliple sets of coordinates within any state, generally corresponding to entry and exit points by county. Thus, since more coordinates have been used to draw the path, the depicted path should be more accurate. Having said that, most tornadoes do not have additional path data in the NCDC archive. When they do, paths are drawn from the NCDC data.

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Statistics   Definitions |?|

The following statistics and definitions are derived from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) historical tornado archive. The Tornado History Project can not guarantee the accuracy of the underlying data within the SPC historical tornado archive. However, the data as presented here is guaranteed to match the SPC data, except where noted.

Some definitions will not be given since they are obvious (i.e. "Date", "Time", etc...)
Special Note: This site uses a unique index number to identify each tornado. This index number is not a part of the official historical tornado archive.

E (Error) (tornado search table only) - A yellow box indicates that the tornado record contains a suspected error. A red box indicates that the tornado record contains an error and has been modified from the official source. Hover over the box for the error text.
Map/Forum (tornado search table only) - Clickable icons for further content related to a tornado.
State - The state or states affected by a tornado.
Fujita - The Fujita scale is an attempt to classify damage from a tornado. F0 being the least damaging, F5 the most. For 2007 and beyond, the Enhanced Fujita (EF) is given.
Fat. - The number of fatalities attributed to the tornado.
Inj. - The number of injuries attributed to the tornado.
Width - Width in yards. It is unclear if this indicates a maximum width or mean width.
Length - Length of tornado path in miles. Note the entire track length is not necessarily all on the ground (some tornadoes "hop and skip".)
Damage - Prior to 1996, this is a range by dollar amount. For 1996 and later, actual damage estimates are in millions.
Crop Loss - Added in 2007. Given in millions of dollars.
Lat/Lon - Contains two sets of coordinates:

  • Touchdown Latitude/Longitude - For single state tornadoes, and the overall record for multi-state tornadoes, the approximate touchdown location in decimal degrees. For the state specific records of multi-state tornadoes, entry point into the state in decimal degrees.
  • Liftoff Latitude/Longitude - For single state tornadoes, and the overall record for multi-state tornadoes, the approximate liftoff location in decimal degrees. For the state specific records of multi-state tornadoes, the exit or lift-off point from the state in decimal degrees.

St. #. - The state tornado number assigned to the tornado for that specific state for that specific year. Generally, state tornado numbers were assigned in the order the tornado occurred, but that is not always the case.
SPC # - The tornado number as assigned by the SPC. Tornado numbers are not unique and reset each year. Generally, tornado numbers were assigned in the order the tornado occurred, but that is not always the case.

Tornado Summary

Date (y/m/d)TimeFujitaFatalitiesInjuriesWidthLengthDamageCrop LossTouchdown Lat/LonLiftoff Lat/LonSPC #State #
1985-05-3115:17:00 341612535056.2$5M-$50M-41.48 / -80.5241.43 / -79.4733710
Affected StatesAffected Counties
Pennsylvania, Ohio Mercer, Crawford, Venango, Forest, Trumbull

State Segments

Date (y/m/d)TimeFujitaFatalitiesInjuriesWidthLengthDamageCrop LossTouchdown Lat/LonLiftoff Lat/LonSPC #State #
1985-05-3115:17:00 341612535056$5M-$50M-41.48 / -80.5241.43 / -79.473373
Affected StatesAffected Counties
Pennsylvania Mercer, Crawford, Venango, Forest
Date (y/m/d)TimeFujitaFatalitiesInjuriesWidthLengthDamageCrop LossTouchdown Lat/LonLiftoff Lat/LonSPC #State #
1985-05-3115:17:00 34003500.2$5K-$50K-41.48 / -80.5241.48 / -80.5233710
Affected StatesAffected Counties
Ohio Trumbull
User Comments   (4)      
General Comment
2008-07-08 16:48:01
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J. Doyle
Posts:1
Rank: F0

At approximately 6:10 PM on 5/31/85, this tornado struck the Wilson farm just north of Cooperstown PA. Daughter funnels, spun off to the north and south of the main funnel, damaged residences to the north and south of the main funnel; these spinoffs did not touch down and dissipated before crossing Sugarcreek to the east. The main funnel, at F4 strength, crested the ridge west of the Wilson farm and followed a ravine down the east side. The ravine emptied directly into the farm property.

Thirteen people were at the farm at the time. There was no warning; regional television stations were broadcasting "Tornado Watch" banners - not warnings, and no sirens sounded. The F4 struck the farm directly. The mobile home residence on the west side of the property was the first structure hit and was completely disintegrated. The i-beam frame components were later found wrapped around tree trunks like pipe cleaners. For the people in and around the mobile home there was nowhere to hide, and many suffered severe injuries. One person was killed by flying debris.

The tornado then destroyed the unoccupied farm house and barn, trapping the cattle under the debris, killing many outright before continuing across State Route 427 and into empty fields on its way east toward Cranberry and the trailer park there where many died.

A wastewater storage tank from the property's natural gas well was found 0.3 miles east of its original location. A Chrysler K-car sedan, driving north on RT427, was picked up by the funnel and deposited 400 yards east of the road in a corn field; the car was flattened, but its occupants were virtually unharmed. Months later, the farm's owner received a package in the mail from Potter County in north-central Pennsylvania containing documents of his that were blown there by the storm.

I was a direct witness to the storm. I lived just south of the farm and was preparing to go out with friends when the tornado hit. Our house was at the foot of the western ridge, and my mother was nervously watching the sky above the ridge. She was extremely worried about the weather and urging me to cancel my plans, but that was nothing new. My father came home around 5:45 and took me aside to tell me that there was ominous rotation in the clouds to the west, but we thought it was just a normal thunderstorm. Just before the funnel hit, my mother started screaming hysterically. I ran to the rear of the house, looked up over the hill, and saw mature trees flying high up in the sky.

In those days the conventional wisdom was to open the windows to prevent "negative pressure" from exploding the house, and I did what I had been taught - I ran to the front of the house to open my bedroom window. Just as my hand touched the sash, every tree in our yard fell to the southeast like dominoes. There was a line of huge 50-year old pine trees just north of the house, and the front yard had numerous large maples, cherries, and pines. All of them, in an instant, hit the ground, pointed southeast. Just across the road was a large oak tree, which strangely and fatefully fell to the west - directly into our yard, completely blocking the road and later preventing emergency vehicles from reaching the Wilson farm. With the trees out of the way, I was able to see the F4 funnel as it crossed the fields and scaled the ridge to the east, out of sight. I also saw a smaller funnel passing directly over our house headed east; this funnel retracted into the clouds a few hundred yards east of Sugar Creek.

General Comment
2010-12-06 09:03:51
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F0xridley
Posts:6
Rank: F0

I was under the impression that this tornado tracked a bt further north than this, hitting Atlantic and Cochranton directly and had 23 fatalities.

General Comment
2011-06-10 21:48:18
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F0xridley
Posts:6
Rank: F0

I would like to know why there is such a discrepancy regarding the death toll. Tornado History Project lists this tornado with a death toll of 16, but others list it with 23 deaths. A difference of 1 or 2 I might understand, but not a differnce of 7 deaths.

General Comment
2012-04-08 16:11:37
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Wheatlandf5
Posts:1
Rank: F0

The death toll of 16 is correct. 8 deaths in Crawford County, and 8 in Venango County. The differences of 7 is from the tornado that hit Tionesta PA in Forest County. Although I have come across sources that list the figure as 23, these sources combine the two storms into a single long tracked tornado, even though storm surveys afterward determined that the tornadoes were seperate.

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