Why no tornado warnings were issued for northeast Columbus Saturday


Neighbors in northeast Columbus are working to clean up their streets after a weak tornado touched down Saturday leaving many wondering why a tornado warning was never issued for the storm.

“There was a period for about a minute or two where there was a strong gust of air right around the threshold of a severe thunderstorm that kind of came through that area,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Ken Haydu said.

At approximately 6:06 p.m. Saturday in northeast Columbus, shutters and siding were being torn off of homes while trees were toppled over like dominoes, but no official warning from the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

“We looked at the radar data before and after the storm. The one in Columbus, there actually was no indication on our radar of any type of rotation in that storm,” Haydu said. “That day they were looking at maybe a 40 percent chance for a watch, but it didn't even reach their threshold for concerns.”

After the damage was assessed, it was determined that an EF0 tornado had touched down. EF0 tornadoes are classified as having winds between 65 to 85 mph, but from the radar imagery alone at that time, it wasn't so cut and dry.

In fact, 70 percent of thunderstorms that rotate don’t produce tornadoes.

“It becomes a very hard decision when you're sitting on the radar making the no warn decision,” Haydu said.

Unlike larger tornadoes that allow for more lead time to warn people in the area, smaller tornadoes like the one on Saturday can come and go in the blink of an eye.

“Eighty percent of our tornadoes are these small tornadoes,” Haydu said. “They're only on the ground for a few minutes. They do some damage, but it's usually minor and very few people get killed or injured in that.”

Thankfully, there were no injuries related to the storm in Columbus on Saturday. Haydu also expressed that their greatest concern that day was flooding which is the biggest weather killer in Ohio, not tornadoes

It only takes 18 inches of water to make your car buoyant enough to be swept away by flood waters as we have been seeing recently down in Texas.

For more details and images related to the EF0 tornado on June 4, 2016, click here.