Strong Storms Bash County
Two tornadoes touched down in Warren County Tuesday night temporarily knocking out power to more than 6,000 residents, destroying portions of ball fields at the Farm Colony Complex in Conewango Township and nearly destroying a home in Scandia.
High winds, rain and lightning toppled trees, littered roadways with branches and flooded a number of roads throughout the county.
The storm was reported as an EF-1 tornado with winds between 100 to 105 miles per hour carving a path about 100 yards wide and about four miles long between Priest Hollow Road and Scandia Road, Warren County Public Safety Director Todd Lake said.
“We were really surprised, it’s tore up pretty bad in that area,” Lake said.
Earlier in the evening a small EF-0 tornado with a path of about 25 yards wide and 200 yards long hit Brown Hill Road near the border between Brokenstraw and Sugar Grove townships, Pete Jung of the National Weather Service in State College said.
The storm continued moving east towards the Farm Colony Complex ball fields off of Route 62 where straight line winds folded a light pole in half, knocked the press box over the backstop on Weidert Field, tore the roof off the storage house, tossed bleachers into the fields and tore down fences.
The light poles at the Farm Colony Complex are built to withstand winds of 200 miles per hour, Randy Eadie, board president of the Warren County Youth Baseball Softball Association said. Somehow the American flag pole in between the fields was left standing.
“We’re just going to have to divert most of the games to other fields,” Eadie said. “For now, we’re just going to close the complex down.”
“It’s just amazing how it came through, in our main building… the roof is completely ripped off, peeled off the back. There was some major high winds. Down bursts, whatever you want to call it…,” Eadie said.
All the fields at the complex were damaged except for Farm Colony Field B.
“The only one that looks like there was no damage was over on (field) B, which is going to be the new Mark Garrett Field, the younger man that just passed away recently, he was one of our umpires and chief that helped up us out mentoring all the umpires. He passed away and we’re going to dedicate that field to him. It’s unscathed. We’re going to to put a memorial over there for him.”
A path of trees between the storage house and the Allegheny National Forest Headquarters was knocked down as well as a number of trees on the 11th hole on the golf course at the Conewango Valley Country Club.
A tornado warning was issued shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday evening by the National Weather Service after weather spotters reported a tornado near Union City headed east at 35 miles per hour.
Areas put on alert in the tornado’s path in Warren County included Columbus Township, Spring Creek, Lottsville, and Russell.
Linda and Richard Burroughs of Scandia were watching the tornado warning on TV.
“We just thought it was going to be a regular storm. We saw on TV that it was going to hit Union City and we thought it would pass us…We were somewhat surprised when we heard that terrible wind like you hear with a tornado.”
Following the National Weather Service recommendations to “take cover inside now” and “move to an interior room on the lowest level of a sturdy building” the Burroughs headed to a lower level bathroom.
“We heard a lot of crashing outside,” Linda said. “The one side of the house basically had no tree damage. The other side of the house there were trees down everywhere and a clear (storm) path.”
By mid-morning the Burroughs were cleaning up, sawing through tree limbs and bonding with neighbors who showed up to help.
“They’re here cleaning up and they have chainsaws for the trees and we need every one of them,” she said. “It was a good way to meet your neighbors. We live in the country so you don’t see them all the time.”
Lake said the 911 center received a number of calls throughout the evening reporting trees down in roadways and flooding in Columbus Township and Sugar Grove areas. By early Wednesday morning dispatchers were checking with municipalities for reports of damage.
A low lying section of Route 6 in Columbus Township was flooded with nearly four feet of water, leaving a few cars stranded. Portions of Route 426 and 957 were temporary closed.
Lake said if residents or municipalities have “anything that caused physical damage to a structure” such as foundation issues caused by runoff or trees that fell on property from wind damage to call the public safety office at 563-2220.
Penelec spokesman Linda Routzahn said by about 6,650 customers in Warren County lost power by about 9:25 p.m. after lightning struck near the Penelec substation on Pennsylvania Avenue West knocking out power to it and substation in North Warren. Nearly all the power was restored in about 20 minutes by “switching circuits around” Routzahn said, leaving about 1,550 residents without power for another 45 minutes.
Workers continued to work through the night on Hemlock Road where a number of power lines were down, leaving 59 residents without power around 1 a.m. Nearly half of the customers had power restored by 5:30 a.m.
PennDOT workers were out by 10:30 p.m. responding to calls from the 911 center mainly in the northern and western parts of the county near Route 62 in Russell and Scandia where a number of trees were knocked down, PennDOT Assistant Highway Maintenance Manager Adam Elms said.
Flooding brought water over the tops of bridges at the bottom of Brown Run on Route 59, on Route 426 near Corry and in Starbrick. Each bridge was inspected and all roads are open, according to Elms. “They didn’t find any additional damages.”