PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The National Weather Service is now confirming a tornado touch down in Mercer County during Tuesday afternoon’s severe weather.
The storms brought gusty winds, heavy rains and lightning to the area, leaving a path of destruction in its wake.
“The severe weather moved out of the area by about 4 o’clock this afternoon,” said KDKA Chief Meteorologist Jeff Verszyla. “Since then, we’ve just seen a few spotty showers dotting the landscape.”
Watch the latest forecast here:
Sections of Mercer County took the brunt of Tuesday afternoon’s severe weather.
The wild weather had residents running for cover.
“I just saw clouds swirling. It was scary and that’s when I took off for the basement,” said Marcie Heckman, a Jackson Center resident. “It lasted maybe a minute at the most.”
“Pretty much a wall of rain had come in and you could see some debris in the air, so we actually decided we take some refuge inside the building,” said Matt Roberts, an area business owner. “We had five of us in the restroom and it lasted about 15 seconds.”
Just west of the Borough of Mercer, the National Weather Service confirmed a low-level tornado touched down, uprooting trees and damaging several barns.
KDKA’s Ralph Iannotti Reports:
On the other side of Interstate 79, high winds in excess of 80 miles an hour caused similar damage in the Borough of Jackson Center.
John Egger was home when he got a tornado warning alert on his cell phone about 3:30 p.m.
Egger heard the message, “Take cover,” and he says, “Seconds later, it sounded like a freight train was coming down the street.”
He said he looked outside and it appeared the trees were blowing sideways, and a saw an old Elm tree uprooted directly across the street.
The Vincent United Methodist Church’s garage was damaged by the high winds. Cheryl Carlson said Mother Nature’s fury is difficult to describe.
“The awesomeness of what could pick up something like that,” she said. “It’s really awesome, but God will take care of it. It’ll be okay.”
Also, the false roof on a mobile home was ripped off.
“I know it blew the fake roof off and we’re waiting for emergency management to come by and let me know if I can stay here tonight or not,” said Paul Lough, the homeowner. “There’s still a roof on the home. I think it’s going to leak pretty bad, but they said the rain’s stopped, so I should be good.”
The roof landed in a neighbor’s yard.
“What can I do? It happened,” added Lough. “At least the trailer’s still there, my home’s still there and I’ve got a roof, so I’ve got to be happy with that.”
First Energy said Tuesday evening that crews were working to restore power to homes still in the dark because of downed power lines. At the height of the storm, about 600 customers were in the dark.
Meanwhile, high winds ripped down trees in Fawn and West Deer Townships, causing damage and power outages.
One large pine tree was uprooted and landed on a man’s truck and his home.
Another tree crashed into a family’s gazebo breaking it apart. That same tree also sheared off their gas line causing a small gas leak.
West Penn Power crews worked to replace lines ripped to the ground by trees falling. PennDOT crews worked to clear one end of Millerstown Road of fallen trees.
KDKA’s David Highfield Reports:
The chief of the West Deer Volunteer Department #1 suspects a microburst came through.
“It was all white, and it was a funnel,” said Jeanne Kudlac, of Fawn Township. “It was circling. You could see stuff flying inside of it!”
“It sounded like a train! It really did,” said Kudlac.
The good news, nicer weather is on the way for the rest of the week.
“Improving weather the next several days,” said Verszyla. “It turns less humid [Wednesday], still the opportunity for a passing shower; although, most of us probably will not see one. Very hit and miss in the coverage, and then a pleasant pattern taking shape for the latter half of the week.”
No injuries were reported.