Storms prompt county tornado warning
Two rounds of severe thunderstorms hit Morgan County late Thursday afternoon prompting a tornado warning. Unconfirmed sightings of three funnel clouds forming in the Magnolia area were reported. Hail was also seen in the Berkeley Springs area.
The National Weather Service contacted the 911 Dispatch Center after 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 26 regarding severe thunderstorms with rotation approaching from Hampshire County, said Morgan County Emergency Services Director Dave Michael.
After the National Weather Service called, they alerted the fire departments, emergency medical personnel and law enforcement and activated the tornado sirens of all four fire companies, Michael said.
They also made announcements over the radio for the next half hour to an hour based on radar assessments of the storm tracks.
Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company Chief J.J. Steiner said most county fire company personnel were dispatched to report to their fire stations when the tornado warning was issued.
The first storm moved northeast along the Potomac River between Paw Paw and Great Cacapon through the Paw Paw Bends and the Orleans area, Michael said.
There were no injuries reported and no damage except for some downed trees and power lines in the Orleans area and one power line down near Cherry Run, he said.
There were no signs of a tornado touching down on the ground, Michael said. From the trees on the ground, the damage in the Orleans area could have been from the rotation from the winds of a possible tornado forming in the air.
Fire Chief J.J. Steiner said that they responded to a call about a tree limb down on a power line at 75 Fulton Road Thursday evening around 8 p.m. They returned to the scene the next morning when the whole tree fell on the power line and caught fire. Allegheny Power also responded.
Michael, Steiner and other county fire company units drove around to do the storm damage assessment after the first storms.
Second set of storms
Fire department personnel reported sighting three funnel clouds forming in the Magnolia area after a second line of smaller storms came through, Michael said. Paw Paw Volunteer Fire Company officials could not be reached for more information.
It looked like the track of those storms went to the Highland Ridge and Sleepy Creek areas, he said. The second round of storms blanketed the whole county. There were no reports of a tornado sighting in Sleepy Creek or other parts of the county.
Get a weather radio
Michael emphasized that residents should directly rely on the National Weather Service reports as their primary way of staying informed of severe weather incidents. The dispatch center could get overwhelmed by 911 calls and be unable to alert the public of a tornado warning, he said.
He advised that people invest in a weather radio that will broadcast National Weather Service severe weather alerts. They can be purchased for about the same price as a smoke detector. A weather radio is an important safety investment, he said.
Call friends, relatives
Michael also recommended if someone gets severe weather alerts by radio to call relatives and friends in an affected area to make sure they know about the alert.
He wanted people to help get the word out as quickly as possible in a severe weather emergency to prevent the possible loss of life.