1944-06-23 Dravosburg PA Tornado Survey

Jordan Plumbo

I'm doing a survey of a Tornado that hit West Mifflin Area just south of Pittsburgh PA. I was lucky enough to find pictures of the damage.

I'm getting the survey up as soon as possible.

This tornado was a part of the Appalacha Tornado Outbreak of June 1944.
 

Jordan Plumbo

It looks like that the Tornado was in fact a F5 because some homes where flattend or vanished. House was tossed over 200Yds away look at 3 of 15 Photos that I have found.

Path: Estimated 10 Miles.

Structure: Multiple Vortex Wedge

Winds 260-270MPH
 

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Dec 4, 2003
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Interesting to see the map for that morning. I think the map is obfuscated by poor warm front placement... this should instead extend from Chicago to South Carolina, with strong isentropic lift implied across Ohio and the Appalachians. I am guessing a zone of thunderstorms developed in OH and eastern KY during the morning and shifted into Pennsylvania during the day. The synoptic pattern does not look particularly favorable for supercells so I am guessing a subsynoptic low was able to develop somewhere along that warm front and back the winds in Pennsylvania.

You also see the old nomenclature for S (superior) air atop maritime tropical air. Superior air is what we now call the EML, so the air mass across the Midwest was probably capped.

Wow, look at that... 84 degrees with a gusty southwest wind in Louisville, Kentucky at 2 in the morning. I don't understand how they can see that 84-degree reading and the 69 degrees in Ohio and put the warm front in Pennsylvania.

Tim
 

Damian Nunimaker

I basically don't know anything about this...lol, but I live right down the street from the location that those pictures were taken. I live in West Mifflin within view of the Allegheny County Airport.
 

Dan Robinson

I don't see obvious F5 damage in those images, but it certainly was a strong tornado. Cool find though, as I am 'partially' from the Pittsburgh area and was unaware of this event. SW PA gets its share of tornadoes. There was one back in the 80s that I remember seeing on TV as a kid, a huge white cone in Beaver County - probably from the May 1985 event but I'm not sure.
 

Jordan Plumbo

I don't see obvious F5 damage in those images, but it certainly was a strong tornado. Cool find though, as I am 'partially' from the Pittsburgh area and was unaware of this event. SW PA gets its share of tornadoes. There was one back in the 80s that I remember seeing on TV as a kid, a huge white cone in Beaver County - probably from the May 1985 event but I'm not sure.
Some homes were swept away but that is probaly F3-F4 Damage maybe F5 based on rumors. My aunt and uncle and there family lives near the F3 that Struck in Saxonburg PA during May of 1985 there was a Home that was thrown over a 100Yds away. They said it was F5 Tornado based on what they saw.
 

Andy Wade

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Feb 9, 2011
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Norman
I know I'm posting on a 4-year-old thread, but I'm considering researching the Shinnston, WV, tornado or the 6/23/44 outbreak as a whole for a meteorology course at OU. That map is an awesome find, but the observations are widely spaced and as was noted earlier, the analysis is questionable. I'd like to have enough of an idea of what was going on synoptically to try to recreate the outbreak with a numerical model. I can't find anything else, except for a few brief mentions in articles that use the Shinnston storm as an example of a violent tornado in mountainous eastern terrain. Can anyone suggest somewhere to go for more/better sources of information, or should I throw in the towel and be the millionth met student to analyze the Super Outbreak? Thanks!
 
Apr 16, 2010
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Omaha, NE
I know I'm posting on a 4-year-old thread, but I'm considering researching the Shinnston, WV, tornado or the 6/23/44 outbreak as a whole for a meteorology course at OU. That map is an awesome find, but the observations are widely spaced and as was noted earlier, the analysis is questionable. I'd like to have enough of an idea of what was going on synoptically to try to recreate the outbreak with a numerical model. I can't find anything else, except for a few brief mentions in articles that use the Shinnston storm as an example of a violent tornado in mountainous eastern terrain. Can anyone suggest somewhere to go for more/better sources of information, or should I throw in the towel and be the millionth met student to analyze the Super Outbreak? Thanks!
I'm not sure what the limits are for your research, but you have this years tornado outbreak(4/27/11). Data should be easy to come by and you will be one of the first met students to analyze it.
 
May 21, 2011
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There's a book (somewhat rare) called Shinston Tornado that you might find interesting. That West Virginia town conducted search & rescue with canoes, believe it or not. The several tornadoes that tracked across the Ohio-PA-WV area toward the southeast are considered to be part of the area's classic northwest-flow severe outbreak. There may be an old-timer at CA Univ. of PA that can help you further.
 
Jan 14, 2011
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stormhighway.com
As a WV native, the Shinnston tornado has always been interesting to me - but terrain-wise, the topography around that area isn't very remarkable, at least as Appalachian mountains go. I'd call it more "hilly" there - eastern OK and southern MO have had many tornadoes traversing similar topographies as that part of WV. A true "mountain" crossing by a strong tornado in WV would be the April 4, 1974 F3 in Summers County (which also crossed the New River Gorge west of Sandstone). Fujita surveyed that track from the air and took photos, which supposedly still exist somewhere. I still would love to see those.
 
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Aug 4, 2008
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Not to hijack the thread, but the F3 that Dan speaks of did cross mountains. I was 2 years old at the time and this tornado passed within a mile from my house. It hit the town of Meadow Bridge, where it destroyed my grandmothers house and destroyed a trailer that my aunt and unlce lived in and threw my aunt and cousin about 400 yards into a field. My aunt wrote a small book about the event that is probably out of print, but gave many details of that early morning tornado...
 
May 21, 2011
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As I look a bit further, a gentleman at Millersville, PA (higher ed) knows something about this, and did a presentation at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) conference in Pittsburgh, PA, April 2000. That school is apparently big into weather. As an aside, considering the context, the actual events of these significant tornadoes of the 1940s was overshadowed at that time, IMO, and in the newspapers, by a war called WWII.