National Weather Service Assesses Storm Damage In Westmoreland Co.
LIGONIER (KDKA) — Severe weather tore through the area Friday night, uprooting trees, knocking down power lines and causing damage to several homes.
The day after, cleanup got underway and weather officials traveled around assessing the damage.
The National Weather Service did confirm that a tornado that touched down in Ligonier, Westmoreland County.
“We’ve confirmed an EF1 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, estimated maximum wind speed of this storm were 105 miles an hour,” said Fred McMullen, of the National Weather Service.
Officials say the storm that came through moved about eight miles at approximately 40 miles per hour.
It downed hundreds of trees, and any building directly in its path was damaged, like a warehouse that had its roof tore off.
However, as bad as it is, emergency officials say it could have been so much worse.
Outside of Ligonier, along Route 711, the word for the day is “devastation.”
Matt Starry’s assessment comes from what’s outside his grandmother’s front door, massive trees – torn and tossed.
“Complete shock,” said Starry of the damage. “[The trees] more or less fell to the side; instead of to the house, the porch would have collapsed.”
“It’s terrible. I never had anything like happen to me,” added Dorothy Felbaum, who lives in the home. “I never thought I’d see the day a tornado hit my home.”
Meanwhile, crews were working to restore power around the area.
“Right now, we have about 550 residents without power in the area,” Sandy Smythe, of Westmoreland County Emergency Services, said Saturday morning. “Allegheny Power is working with, and they’ve pulled crews in from all around the area, and say they hope to have power restored by the evening.”
In every storm story, there’s always an example of the storm’s selectiveness when it comes to destruction. In this storm, on a piece of land historically called The Tempest, the roof was destroyed on one home, but the house across the street was left untouched.
“We have approximately 75 homes that were affected by this particular storm,” said Dan Stevens, of Westmoreland County Emergency Services.
Damage estimates for the storm have yet to be totaled.
Meanwhile, emergency officials are warning residents to be wary of fly-by-night contractors and tree removal services moving into the area.
They say never give money to anyone until services are rendered. It’s happened when other storms have moved through, and homeowners were ripped off.