FREMONT — The National Weather Service has confirmed an EF1 tornado briefly touched down, causing damage in Steuben County, especially in the Fremont area early Monday morning.
The storms that ripped through the area spawned the brief tornado just west of Interstate 69 near S.R. 127 tracking east to Country Meadows Golf Course causing extensive tree damage and destroying a barn west of Fremont, said the NWS.
The tornado then turned right, tracking through Fremont south of S.R. 127 snapping trees and damaging roofs of several structures. The tornado continued east southeast across mainly open fields, snapping trees along the way before heavily damaging another barn and destroying several outbuildings on a farm residence south of Clear Lake. The tornado continued toward the Indiana-Ohio state line before dissipating in an open field.
Estimated peak windspeed with the storm, according to the NWS, was 100 miles per hour.
Numerous residents and businesses were without power early in the day Monday, mainly in the area of the northern part of the Lake James chain toward Lake George in the Steuben County REMC service area and between Angola and Fremont for Northern Indiana Public Service Co. customers.
Steuben County REMC’s outage map showed nearly 400 customers without power representing about 9,800 people. NIPSCO’s outage map showed about 3,000 customers without power. Data was from shortly after 8 a.m.
In Fremont, police and fire crews spent the morning diverting traffic on South Wayne Street because a large tree had been downed and was across the road near Pearl Street.
LaGrange Products, Fremont, sustained damage to its building on South Wayne Street and one pole building on Broad Street in Fremont lost its roof. Debris could be seen from South Wayne Street into the yard and the pond lot across from it. Some debris was tangled in the power lines.
The solar field at Fremont Middle School also sustained damage in the storm.
Superintendent Bill Stitt said the panels themselves weren’t damaged in the storm, but metal roofing that was stacked on skids near the solar field was scattered through the area. An inverter also toppled over and the fencing sustained damage.
Throughout the area lines for the power companies, Frontier telephone and MediaCom cable were downed, mainly caused by trees crossing lines.
Traffic signals along S.R. 120 were not operating. Crews from the Indiana Department of Transportation were erecting temporary stop signs until power could be restored.
Steuben County Highway Department road graders were also out, clearing trees and large branches from the roads.
Officials from the National Weather Service examined drone footage provided by Steuben County Emergency Management Director Randy Brown to try to determine what was behind the storm that hit at about 2:55 a.m.
Brown said the damage was pretty extensive, especially spreading from the Fremont Moose Lodge out to C.R. 925E.
Two weather observers in the Coldwater, Michigan, area reported seeing funnel clouds, the National Weather Service said.
Little damage was reported in LaGrange and Noble counties.
In addition, there was a semi-tractor trailer rig at a Fremont business that had been blown over.
At this time, there are no known injuries or fatalities from the storm.
Reporter Hailee Lepley also contributed to this report.