Midstate cleans up after weekend winds damaged buildings

Written by The Associated Press | Feb 27, 2017 4:45 AM

Mike Albert with his collapsed garage in the 600 block of Hellam Street (Route 462) in Wrightsville. (Photo: Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record)

(Undated) -- Parts of Pennsylvania were cleaning up Monday, two days after high winds destroyed buildings, took down tree limbs and killed farm animals.

The National Weather Service said it has preliminarily attributed damage 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 with some sort of damage.

A strong cold front moved across Pennsylvania, 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 in Lancaster County from straight-line winds of 70 mph to 90 mph has reached about $7 million, 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.

An earlier story is below, from the York Daily Record:

Severe storm damage in eastern York County on Saturday may be from a tornado, the National Weather Service in State College said.

Meteorologists surveying the damage near Hallam and Wrightsville have released preliminary findings that an EF1 tornado touched down on Saturday.

The path of tornado damage is about four miles long and about 100 yards wide, caused by winds of about 90 miles per hour, National Weather Service officials said.

Final results of the survey are expected to be completed Sunday evening.

Storms first hit the area around 2 p.m. with rain and heavy thunderstorms. The National Weather Service in State College issued a tornado warning around 2:20 p.m.

Several thousand Met-Ed customers lost power in York County. Over 800 were still without power Sunday morning.

Investigators earlier said straight-line winds estimated at 75 to 95 mph caused damage over a nine-mile path Saturday in Brickerville in Lancaster County.

The Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency said at least seven buildings, mostly farm buildings, were reported destroyed in West Cocalico Township. Trees were reported blown into homes in Clay and Elizabeth townships.

The York County tornado on Saturday comes almost a year after two tornadoes touched down in Lancaster County, destroying several homes, barns and an Amish schoolhouse.

York Daily Record journalists Gordon Rago and Jason Plotkin encounter a sudden sheet of driving wind and rain while driving west on U.S. 30 across the Susquehanna River. Gordon Rago, York Daily Record

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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