Celina was hit heavy with tornado damage on Sunday. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Celina was hit heavy with tornado damage on Sunday. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

MERCER COUNTY – Van Wert County EMA director/weather specialist Rick McCoy said late Monday afternoon that storm observers that came down to Mercer County from the National Weather Service office in Syracuse, Ind. on Monday afternoon were able to determine that two separate tornadoes assaulted that area.

The first tornado stayed on the ground for eight miles from the village of Wabash, Ohio, located in western Mercer County to just west of Celina.

Almost immediately, McCoy said, another tornado formed over Grand Lake, St. Marys and struck the east business side of Celina, destroying the Dollar General Store, causing severe damage to Dunham Sporting Goods and heavy damage to several other buildings in the area.

The western Mercer tornado was part of a 39-mile long track tornado that roared across all of Jay County and into Mercer County, destroying a large number of turkey barns around Wabash as well  as other farm buildings, machinery and electrical and telephone wires.

McCoy said he measured the width of the tornado at three-tenths of a mile in the western part of the county and the Celina destruction path at 200 yards. National Weather Service officials estimated the twister to be an E-2 tornado with winds maxing out at 135 miles per hour.

In Celina, eight people were injured in the C-Town Restaurant. In addition, McCoy said he counted at least 75 cars with windows blown out and tires destroyed from flying debris.

Mandy Stucke, who lives in Wabash, said that her family was watching TV when an announcement noted that Wabash was in direct line for the impending tornado.

“We looked out our south windows and all we saw was a massive cloud of rain blowing our direction,” said Stucke. “We immediately headed to the basement and stayed there until the storm was well past.”

The actual damage path was about a half mile south of Stucke’s.

McCoy said that NWS Service officials had warned him on Friday that severe weather was a good bet for Sunday afternoon. At that time, McCoy said, they thought that things would get going about three or four in the afternoon.

As it turned out, the first storm damage was reported in Blackford County, Indiana,  near Hartford City at 1:25 p.m. The storm then carried out a long-track path of destruction for the next 39 miles, ending at Celina about approximately 2:30 p.m. A separate storm caused major destruction in the Findlay area about an hour later.