UNIONTOWN (KDKA) – Severe weather rolled through western Pennsylvania Thursday night, which caused heavy damage in Fayette County.
Gallatin Avenue in Uniontown was hit particularly hard. Now, the National Weather Service has confirmed an EF1 tornado touched down, which had winds up to 105 mph.
It’s the first tornado recorded in the month of February since 1950.
The National Weather Service watched the storm hit on radar and was not surprised at the devastation, but an on-site inspection was needed before making an official declaration Friday morning.
“We can confirm an EF1 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita Scale with maximum wind speeds of 105 miles an hour,” said Fred McMullin, the National Weather Service’s Pittsburgh Severe Storms Specialist.
Confirmed EF1 tornado in Uniontown occurred last night with winds up to 105 mph. 1st recorded tornado in NWS Pittsburgh area of responsibility during February since 1950.
— NWS Pittsburgh (@NWSPittsburgh) February 16, 2018
As utility crews worked to restore power, so did the residents who were sealing up their homes and assessing the damage in the two-mile path of destruction.
“At least probably eight to 10 businesses have been damaged or destroyed, and I couldn’t estimate the number of homes,” said Roy Shipley, the director of Fayette County Emergency Management.
Siding from a nearby mobile home could be seen hanging from power lines, debris was scattered everywhere, trees were down and signs were knocked over. Massive trees were also snapped in half and blocking streets.
One home was ripped apart with barely the frame remaining.
“It’s only half a house now. There was people in there at the time when it went through,” Rich Mari said.
Debris was left scattered all over Mari’s yard and his garage was damaged.
“I looked out here and everything was scattered everywhere. My garage was laying halfway in my yard,” he said.
KDKA’s Brenda Waters Reports:
- PHOTO GALLERY: February Tornado Touches Down In Fayette County
The roofs of several homes were torn off as the storm raced through like a freight-train.
“It’s raining right now inside because the roof is ripped open,” Galadriel Strauser said.
Businesses in the area also suffered extensive damage. The owner of Fayette Furnace says he may have to run his company out of a trailer for a while due to storm damage.
“You couldn’t see the extent of the damage last night, until I came in this morning. Last night it was dark and you just couldn’t see,” Mike Salamick said. “I know that it’s ripped the roof off and there’s considerable water coming into the existing structure. I’m worried about the guys, they have a job, they have families to feed.”
Lots of storm damage In Uniontown, Fayette Co…GALLATIN AVENUE….BAILEY AVENUE hit hard …homes destroyed …roofs gone …telephone polls leaning like dominoes pic.twitter.com/h6B9Ljx8zN
— BJ Waters (@BRENDASNEWS) February 16, 2018
No injuries were reported.
“No serious injuries that was reported to us, no deaths. I think there may have been one person taken from a house and to the hospital as a precaution. That, in itself, it’s amazing,” said Shipley.
The storm knocked over utility poles and left thousands in the dark. Around 11 p.m., First Energy was reporting 3,478 customers in Fayette County without power due to the storms. By 6 a.m., nearly 1,100 customers were still without power.
The storms also caused widespread flooding across western Pennsylvania.