Midstate cleans up after weekend winds damaged buildings

Written by The Associated Press | Feb 28, 2017 4:10 AM

A severe thunderstorm with strong winds has downed trees and power lines and caused damage in Denver, Pa., Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency Director Randy Gockley tells LNP newspaper that the storm hit Clay, Elizabeth and West Cocalico townships the hardest on Saturday, but other communities also had electrical wires down. He says some farm buildings collapsed and homes were damaged. (AP Photo/Kirk Neidermyer)

(Lancaster) -- People in two midstate counties were cleaning up Monday from high winds that caused millions in property damage, scattered tree limbs across a wide swath of the state and killed farm animals.

The National Weather Service said it has preliminarily attributed damage from the Saturday afternoon storm near Wrightsville in York County to a tornado, with winds up to 90 mph.

York County spokesman Mark Walters said more than 40 properties were damaged in a 4-mile stretch, with reports of trees falling on garages and houses and a front porch that simply "blew away."

A confirmed tornado also cut a 13-mile swath through the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre areas, generating 120 mph winds and injuring two women.

The Times-Tribune of Scranton said one woman at Lake Scranton was injured in the head, the other in the leg, and both required hospital treatment.

National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Steinbugl said at least two homes and a metal horse barn were extensively damaged in that part of the state, with about 28 other homes getting some sort of damage.

A strong cold front moved across Pennsylvania on Saturday, interacting with unseasonably warm temperatures and a large amount of wind shear in the atmosphere, Steinbugl said.

"A little bit of instability was all it took to put these ingredients together and produce these tornadic storms," he said.

Officials estimate damage has reached about $7 million in Lancaster County from straight-line winds of 70 mph to 90 mph, with 22 structures deemed to have been severely damaged or destroyed. Most of the damage ranged along 9 miles in the northern part of the county.

Lancaster emergency management Director Randy Gockley said chickens and cattle were killed when buildings collapsed.

"The storm lasted for less than 30 minutes," Gockley said. "It was a very fast-moving event."

The front that blew through the eastern part of the state Saturday afternoon also brought reports of quarter-sized hail in Philadelphia.

There also were wind damage reports in a wide region that includes Reading, the Lehigh Valley and parts of the Philadelphia suburbs, Steinbugl said.

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