WAPAKONETA — Trained weather spotter Bob Warren gave a brief presentation Monday at the Auglaize County Public District Library on the typical types of severe weather most common in Auglaize County.
The most common types of severe weather events in the area are flooding and straight line winds. Warren said the flooding makes sense because of the area.
“The flooding is common because we have two rivers in the area,” Warren said. “The St. Marys River and the Auglaize River.”
Warren showed several pictures of flooding, including pictures of the common flooding problem that has plagued the St. Marys downtown area historically.
Warren also discussed the snow alerts that sometimes affect the area. He showed pictures from the famed Blizzard of 1978, with snow stacked along the roads several feet high, seemingly about to swallow up the cars and drivers brave enough to travel on the roadways.
“A lot of people talk about how much fun it was,” Warren said. “I hope we don't get anything like that again. I remember I was 13.”
Residents at several households were delivered food and other necessities by snowmobile because of inability to travel.
Warren also touched on a topic that seems to interest most everyone, tornadoes. Despite the attraction, Auglaize County is considered a low risk area as far as tornadoes are concerned.
Warren discussed the famed 1920 tornado in Moulton, an unincorporated small village between St. Marys and Wapakoneta. At the time, Moulton was a busy railroad town and the storm hit on Palm Sunday. Four of the town's five churches were destroyed. Six people were killed and 20 were injured.
Warren also dispelled of the myth that Grand Lake or other large areas of water can aid in breaking up tornadoes, giving several instances of tornadoes over the lake. One fairly recent storm traveled across the lake as a water spout.
“Actually, it is possible that the lake can intensify the storm because it is so shallow,” Warren said. He said the rumor likely started because storms often travel southwest to northeast, making it appear that the lake is breaking it up even though it is just the natural path of the storm.
Warren explained that emergency personnel are often bothered with reports from good-intentioned people about spotted tornadoes. The reports most often turn out to be gustnadoes or just look-alike clouds. While it usually takes a trained person to spot it, the everyday resident can simply look for rotation in the cloud as a measure of seeing if it is a tornado or not.
Warren said the most common way to be prepared is to have several sources to know when bad weather is approaching.
“Technology can fail,” Warren said. “Have a weather radio. You can get the Red Cross app or the sheriff's department app. Have more than one way to know about the weather.”
Warren said that it does not take a tornado to cause damage, and people should approach all weather warnings the same. The safest spot during a storm is underground shelter such as a basement. If you do not have a basement, pick out a small windowless interior room in the house. If on the road, do not take shelter inside of an overpass on the highway, which is a common mistake. The winds often increase through the tunnel and pieces of rock and other items become flying shrapnel.