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Four tornadoes confirmed

man dead in Pa.

September 19, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

TRI-STATE - Along with tossed roofs, bashed buildings and fallen trees, the remnants of Hurricane Ivan left water in Ernest and Harriet Hill's Fulton County, Pa., basement Friday.

Saturday morning, Ernest Hill of Big Cove Tannery, south of McConnellsburg, Pa., died while trying to pump out the water. Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Ellis Barnett said Hill was overcome from the fumes of a gas-powered generator and died of asphyxiation.

Hill's wife of 44 years, Harriet, said her husband was a retired truck driver and "just a real nice guy. He didn't give anybody any trouble."

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The National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., said that at least four tornadoes touched down in the Tri-State area Friday - one each in and around Washington County; Frederick County, Md.; Berkeley Springs, W.Va.; and Greencastle, Pa.

The Washington County tornado - which hit the eastern end, including Boonsboro - was measured as F0 on the Fujita scale, with winds estimated at 60 to 70 mph, a National Weather Service public information statement said.

"The path was 1 mile long with a width of 75 yards," the statement said.

The most serious tornado on the Fujita scale is an F6, with winds of 319 to 379 mph. The scale labels it "inconceivable."

Ivan, which was downgraded to a tropical depression Friday, and its aftereffects rippled through the Tri-State area Saturday.

More than 1,900 customers in the seven-county Tri-State area still were without power Saturday night.

The National Weather Service reported that the Conococheague Creek at Fairview and the Opequon Creek near Martinsburg, W.Va., each had flooded.

Saturday afternoon, the Conococheague Creek was 2.2 feet over its flood stage and the Opequon was almost a foot above its flood stage.

The Potomac River at Shepherdstown, W.Va., was expected to rise 7 to 8 feet above its flood stage overnight Saturday, while the Potomac River at Williamsport was expected to crest near its flood stage late Saturday, the National Weather Service said.

Allegheny Power spokesman Mike Grandillo said that as of 9:45 p.m., 1,000 customers were without electricity in Washington and Frederick counties.

Another 375 were without power in Franklin and Fulton counties.

The total number of outages in Berkeley and Jefferson counties was 530.

Grandillo said six Jefferson County customers had no electricity, but could expect it to be restored by the end of the night.

The Upper Strasburg area north of Chambersburg, Pa., received a little less than 5 inches of rain between 12:01 a.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday, the National Weather Service in State College, Pa., reported. Waynesboro, Pa., had 2.75 inches.

Weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site says the aftereffects of Ivan dropped 3.71 inches of rain on Hagerstown.

Overall, the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., area had at least an estimated 12 to 18 confirmed tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.

Steve Rogowski, a forecaster, said Saturday that four teams will investigate other reports over the next few days, spending a few hours in each spot.

He said people should not conclude that more tornadoes means more damage; a single tornado that stays on the ground for a while can be worse.

The National Weather Service said that at least 160 structures in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., region were damaged, and the Washington County tornado caused trees to hit at least five homes.

One was on Barnes Road, off Roxbury Road. Assistant Fire Chief Vernon Brown of the First Hose Co. of Boonsboro said Friday that a roof blew off the home there.

Jim Thomas of Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., said it might have been the confirmed Frederick County tornado that leveled a swath along the Appalachian Trail. Hundreds of trees were taken down, he said.

"It looked like a bomb went off," he said.

Thomas said he was watching the approaching storm's path simultaneously on the Internet and on TV.

"They kept saying Rouzerville (Pa.) and I said, 'No, it's us,'" he said.

What might have been the confirmed Berkeley Springs tornado tore Fran Footen's garage from her Heavenly Acres Ridge house in Hancock.

She said her son, Eric, 16, heard a freight train sound and heard a crash. She brought her dogs in.

When the family looked outside, the garage was separated and pieces had shot hundreds of feet away, Footen said.

If it were another night, she said, her son's band might have been practicing in the garage.

The Footens wondered what happened to their cat, Chessie, who was in the garage, but she showed up hours later, Fran Footen said.

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