Microburst hits Girard

By Sarah Gooding
Hometown Girard


The west side of the roof of Cronister’s Ace Hardware was ripped off during a Microburst that went through Girard on Thursday.

A rainy November day transitioned quickly as a microburst plowed through Girard Thursday afternoon, downing poles and electric lines throughout the community and tearing the roof off of Ace Hardware.

ace hardware

Debris from parts of the Ace Hardware roof that blew off, sending it north across St. Johns Street.

“We didn’t know if it was some kind of freak tornado or what was going on,” said Girard City Administrator Chris Weiner. “I personally haven’t witnessed anything of that magnitude.”
The National Weather Service determined that the storm officially was a microburst, not a tornado, based on a pair of videos taken by Girard Medical Center and Crawford County Emergency Management.

“Based on the videos and eyewitness reports from an emergency management employee, this was a microburst,” said John Gagan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service out of Springfield. “Basically, wind from the middle of the thunderstorm rushed downward toward the ground. As it hit the ground, it spread out and advanced to the northeast. The visual of the rain shaft spreading out from the base of the storm is quite striking and it’s not too common we see such a clear visual in the fall season.”

Steve Runnels, warning coordination meteorologist for NWS-Springfield, said the force of the storm can produce winds similar in power to a tornado.
“Think of a water balloon being released at 30,000 feet, picking up speed as it moves through the air,” he said, adding that the result when it hits the earth would be similar and is consistent with what the videos showed.
As of mid-afternoon, the Girard area had received some of the most significant damage in the region (although other storms have been reported and tornado warnings issued since that time).  house pic

“We had numerous reports of hail coming in north of McCune and east of Girard,” Gagan said, adding that damage reports also came in from Arcadia.
“Outside of Girard, we’re not hearing anything else,” he said as of about 2:30 p.m.

In Girard, city crews immediately got to work trying to get the streets cleared and offering assistance where needed.
“We’ve been out and about trying to clean up,” Weiner said. “As far as actual lines down, we probably have three poles down and we’ve had to cut power to three section of town, but those should be up within the evening.”

He said the damage hadn’t necessitated calling in outside help, although that was available, and with predictions of additional storm cells the city had made the decision to hold off on bringing in more help until after everything blew through.
“We were expecting another round of pretty high-level winds,” Weiner said.
While property and infrastructure damages have been sustained throughout town, where the storm cut a path in a northeastern direction beginning at the west end of town, Weiner said he is grateful there have been no reports of injuries.

While the Midwest generally associates tornados with springtime, Runnels said that the day’s weather conditions are prime for what some call the second tornado season, adding that the atmospadmin-ajax.phphere had the same ingredients that lead to cyclones in early spring.
“The fall tornado season is a period of time when we have a clash of air masses combined with strong wind sheer, resulting in rotating updrafts in a thunderstorm,” he said, adding that season tends to run from late-October through December. Below is a link to the video.

VIDEO LINK VIA GIRARD MEDICAL CENTER FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/girardmedicalcenter/videos/917891291623529/