30 yrs after ’85 tornado, Hermitage hit again

Tornado hits Hermitage, Pennsylvania

HERMITAGE, Pa. (WYTV) – As National Weather Service investigator Matt Kramar logged the damage to the Sheetz gas station in Hermitage on his tablet, he determined pretty quickly what caused it.

“The wind was converging and circulating, and so we know for a fact there was a tornado here,” Kramar said. “The question is how strong was it? How long was it on the ground for.”

While Kramar could not tell initially the speed of the storm’s winds, it managed to tear the canopy off one of the gas pump islands, as well as snapping some nearby trees.

But just a short distance up Longview Road, a neighbor was cutting up some branches from the trees that smashed Frank Kretchek’s garage.

“I actually watched the tops of the trees being spun and ripped off,” Frank Kretchek of Hermitage said.

Kretchek also said one of his dogs often gets scared and excited a couple hours before storms hit, and Sunday was no exception.

“We tried to calm him down with some medication, and he would not calm down,” Kretchek said. “Regardless of if he was trying to tell us something, and boy he was right this time.”

Half a mile away, Joe Matusky said the storm knocked down a couple trees in his apartment complex, barely missing his pickup.

“Felt like the roof was coming off the building there.” Joe said. “Couldn’t see anything. Once I looked out the window all I seen was leaves and everything flying by.”

Not lost on any of the neighbors here was that Sunday was the thirtieth anniversary of the string of killer tornadoes that swept through the Mahoning and Shenango Valleys in 1985, including one on Longview Road.

Kramar admits twisters can strike more than once. “This happening on May 31st is interesting, but not really climatologically unusual,” Kramar said.

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