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Friday, July 29, 2022

'Severe Thunderstorm Warning Followed the Tornado:'
Twister destroys barn and downs trees during unexpected Thursday storm  ..

Property owners Sam and John Marlett
survey the damage to the barn

An EF2 tornado touched down Thursday on Route 78, mere minutes after a warning was issued to area residents.

The tornado had maximum wind speeds of 115 mph and an estimated path width of 500 yards. It touched down near the intersection of Chaffee Rd. and Route 78, and before moving east along Route 78 for about 10 miles, left the ground just west of Rt. 19.

Hundreds of hard and soft wood trees were uprooted or downed across Route 78 and the track of the tornado, said Mike Fries, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

A barn on the corner of Chaffee and East Arcade roads — which was more than 100 years old — collapsed as a result of the tornado. The family at the nearby farmhouse were safe and no livestock was harmed. Several maple trees were downed and debris was found scattered across the property.

“I think one of the most amazing things in this whole story today is the story of the barn behind us,” Fries said at the scene. “Not only were none of the people in the home behind us hurt or killed, but none of the livestock was either. You can just witness the damage that was done to that barn and it was sort of a miracle.” The barn moved approximately 25 feet off its foundation, resulting in its collapse.

“All these maple trees that were around the house, they fell and wrapped completely around the house and saved everything,” said property owner John Marlett, surveying the destruction. “Nothing got damaged. We lost some shingles and a couple pieces of siding ... There’s damage to one of the silos but it’s still standing.” 

Marlett and his family operate an active beef cattle farm at the location — John had just finished stacking $12,000 worth of hay in the barn for the winter, which was now trapped in the wreckage. All the animals had been removed from the barn, and they were asking neighbors to help get them out of the way.

Sam Marlett said she saw a wall of wind, rain and flying debris as the tornado struck. “All I saw was wind, trees, branches,” she said.

The tornado warning was issued at 10:37 a.m. and the tornado touched down at 10:40 a.m. It lifted off the ground at 10:55 a.m. Many residents received the warning with enough time to seek shelter, Fries said.

Other residents likewise witnessed the storm’s intensity. Jamie Pankow of Hermitage said branches were flying everywhere and the telephone pole outside her house was sparking.

She said that her apartment was shaking and she moved her dogs and herself into her bathroom for about 10 minutes. “It was terrifying and a little exciting — but mostly terrifying,” said Pankow. “If it would’ve lasted more than 10 minutes, I would have been very terrified.”

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