Fast storm bowls over barns, roofs in region

Winds of 85 mph reported; 1 injured

Neighbors and friends help clear debris from barns that were destroyed  on Jim and Marty Behrman’s property during an overnight storm on County Road H in Deshler, Ohio.
Neighbors and friends help clear debris from barns that were destroyed on Jim and Marty Behrman’s property during an overnight storm on County Road H in Deshler, Ohio.

DESHLER, Ohio — It took 40 neighbors and almost a dozen forklifts, trucks, and cranes to begin cleaning up the damage Thursday that a severe overnight storm wreaked upon Marty Behrman’s farm in Deshler.

“[The storm] was quick,” she said. “It was a matter of seconds, and then everything was gone.”

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The storm that passed through the small village shortly at midnight flattened one of the Behrmans’ barns and ripped off the side of another barn, sending it flying toward the front window of their house.

“I was at the front door,” Mrs. Behrman said. “The window shattered and glass came in. The whole middle of the house’s roof came off.”

Everything inside three barns and the Behrmans’ outdoor workshop were damaged or totaled, including farming equipment and at least three cars. Mrs. Behrman said they are waiting for a monetary damage estimate, but said the storm destroyed much of the property she and her husband, Tim, own.

For most people, the storm proved much less devastating.

Tornado sirens sent many in Lucas, Wood, and surrounding counties rushing for shelter just after midnight Thursday, but authorities said later they had received no reports of tornado sightings, injuries, or significant property damage in the Toledo area — just a few power failures.

The National Weather Service confirmed several weak tornadoes elsewhere, however, during the line of strong thunderstorms that rolled across northern Indiana and northwest Ohio late Wednesday into early Thursday.

The weather service’s North Webster, Ind., office rated the tornado an EF0 on the Enhanced Fujita scale — the lowest-strength rating — saying it packed 85-mph winds when it passed through southeast Henry County and cut a path 20 yards wide.

Bolts of lightning fill the sky as severe storms move through the Toledo area Late Thursday shortly before midnight.
Bolts of lightning fill the sky as severe storms move through the Toledo area Late Thursday shortly before midnight.

In Putnam County, authorities reported minor injuries to the occupant of a mobile home on the south side of North Creek, Ohio, when strong winds overturned the residence.

In Lucas County, Bruce Loprete, director of security at Hollywood Casino Toledo, said once he heard the sirens, he took “at least” 200 people to the basement, where they spent between about 45 minutes.

“It went very smoothly,” he said. “The patrons were very appreciative of our concern.”

About 1.4 inches of rain fell at Toledo Express Airport between 10 p.m. Wednesday and 3 a.m. Thursday, according to AccuWeather, a private weather forecaster in State College, Pa.

But despite dire skies and heavy rain in the early morning hours Thursday, most of northwest Ohio escaped serious weather-related damage, authorities said.

Not so in Henry County, as Ms. Behrman knows all too well. The sheriff’s office reported multiple houses and barns damaged by winds, mainly in the general area of Hamler.

Deshler resident Dawn Hogrefe was in bed when the storm hit.

“I heard terrible winds, and I started yelling,” she said. She rounded up her children and herded them down to the basement. “We hunkered down in there for 45 minutes. We heard a lot of stuff.”

When they emerged, the barn’s roof was laying beside the Hogrefes’ front porch. The chickens in the barn miraculously survived the storm tucked away in their cages.

The National Weather Service in Cleveland said it had confirmed an EF0 tornado from the same thunderstorm that passed through Henry County as it passed near Custar, Ohio, a short time later.

It touched down at about 12:15 a.m. and had peak winds of 75 mph. It caused minor damage to trees and two buildings, meteorologist Jim Kosarik said.

In southwestern Van Wert County, the North Webster weather service office confirmed another tornado, also an EF0. That twister had top winds of 80 mph and touched down in Willshire at 11:27 p.m., leaving a destructive trail about 0.2 mile long and 80 yards wide that started at Green and Williams streets and continued three blocks to State Rt. 49.

A witness told meteorologists Thursday he saw the Willshire twister descend in his yard and snap off two large trees before continuing down a neighborhood street. Several homes sustained major roof and window damage and a free-standing garage was rolled off its cinder-block foundation, the weather service said.

In Williams County, a National Weather Service spotter near Montpelier reported half-inch hail.

Although strong winds also were reported in Ottawa County, deputies there reported no severe weather-related damage, nor any tornado sightings even though weather radar indicated a possible tornado about 12:45 a.m. near Clay Center, about six miles north of Elmore, that was moving northeast at 60 mph.

Chris Eck, a Toledo Edison spokesman, said that at their peak, storm-related outages affected 3,000 Toledo Edison customers.

Most had their power back on by late Thursday, although a few cases where storm winds felled multiple poles could take until today to fix, he said.

The National Weather Service in Cleveland says today will be mostly sunny, with a high near 75 and north winds about 11 mph.

Staff writer David Patch contributed to this report.

Contact Arielle Stambler at: or 419-724-6089.