NWS: Three tornadoes touched down in Highland County Wednesday

Damage in Highland County (WCMH photo/Ted Hart)

LEESBURG, OH (WCMH) — The National Weather Service in Wilmington confirmed Thursday three tornadoes touched down in Highland County during storms early Wednesday morning.

A Category EF-1 tornado was confirmed in New Market, Ohio, according to the National Weather Service. EF-0 tornadoes were confirmed in Leesburg and Greenfield from Wednesday’s storms.

Forecasters for the National Weather Service spent Thursday tracking the path of the storm, using radar and damage reports. They said they think there could have been two separate tornadoes that hit the county.

One of those hit Jana Huff-Daye’s farm on Milner Road near Leesburg.

“When you first come in, it looks almost like a war zone,” Huff-Daye said.

Huff-Daye was in Florida when the storm hit, but when she got an early morning call from her husband, she drove 17 hours back to Ohio.

Their family is fine, but there was damage to their farm, from the main house to the double-wide, the barn and the garage. Huff-Daye said there were also downed walnut trees, which the family sells.

“So that’s kind of devastating too,” Huff-Dave said.

Her mother-in-law, Dorothy “Moosie” Daye, drove back from Florida with her and is staying to visit and help out while insurance assessors and others come to the property.

“You can replace a home,” Daye said. “But you can’t replace your family.”

That includes four-legged family members.

“We thought we’d lost our dog and he showed up last night, so we’re very happy about that,” Huff-Daye said.

Throughout Highland County, collapsed barns and downed trees showed the path of the storms.

“When I was in the Air Force, I was stationed in Rantoul, Illinois, and that’s Tornado Alley,” said Jim Lyle, executive director of Highland County Emergency Management. “So that was an everyday thing. But to have it in Highland County in the first day of March, just doesn’t make any sense. So I think we’ve made Mother Nature mad.”

Lyle met up with forecasters to look at reports of damage and track the storm’s path.

“We rely on everything we can get,” said Andy Hatzos, a forecaster. “We’re fairly close to our radar in Wilmington, so we actually do have a fairly good radar picture of this tornado.”

The National Weather Service said it’s investigating the damage to find out not only its cause, but how strong the winds became.

“It’s just another example that we can get severe weather even in late winter,” Hatzos said. “We haven’t even gotten to spring yet.”

Lyle said while tornadoes here are rare, they’re not unheard of. He said the best thing people can do is be prepared, with nonperishable goods and bottled water. He also reminded those running a generator to have it installed professionally and make sure it’s outside to avoid carbon monoxide.

To see more photos and videos of the damage around central Ohio, click here. 

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