High winds, but no tornado in Pa.

December 01, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

MONT ALTO, Pa. - Dart night at the Chaparral Tavern, a saloon on Anthony Highway, turned romantic Tuesday night when candlelight replaced electric lights when the power went out.

"We were pretty full when the lights went out," said Eddie Stine, owner of the Chaparral at 6880 Anthony Highway (Pa. 997).

High winds that blew through the area were believed by some residents to be a tornado, but a National Weather Service emergency manager who checked for damage Wednesday morning discounted those reports.


In the darkness of night, it might have appeared to witnesses that they were seeing a tornado, but there was no evidence of one, said Greg DeVoir, spokesman for the National Weather Service in State College, Pa.

According to Todd Toth, a weather observer in Waynesboro, Pa., 1.51 inches of rain fell in the Quincy area Tuesday. The highest wind gust recorded there was 57 mph, he said.

A gauge at Waynesboro Area Senior High School registered 1.30 inches of rain and the highest gust was 47 mph, Toth said. Rouzerville was doused with 2.31 inches of rain and recorded wind gusts of 44 mph, he said.

Stine, who lives behind the tavern at 6880 Anthony Highway, said he came out of his house when he heard a loud rumbling noise.

"The wind was really blowing," Stine said. "It blew me back against my Jeep," he said, pointing to the vehicle in his driveway.

Stine said a tornado had touched down across the road some years back and tore the roof off a barn. He said the rumbling he heard Tuesday evening resembled the noise he remembered from the tornado.

Patty Kocek, secretary for the Borough of Mont Alto, said she heard a "roaring noise" Tuesday night that reminded her of the sound of a tornado that touched down "several years ago in Pond Bank."

Pond Bank is a hamlet about two miles north of Mont Alto.

High winds and heavy rain Tuesday clogged storm drains with leaves and debris, causing minor flooding in several areas, DeVoir said.

Waynesboro police were detouring traffic around a large puddle on South Potomac Street Tuesday evening.

Rumors that the storm knocked down a string of utility poles in the area in front of the tavern turned out to be somewhat exaggerated.

According to DeVoir and Fred Solomon, spokesman for Allegheny Power, the wind knocked a tree against a power line. The weight of the tree brought the utility pole down, creating a "domino effect" that brought down four other poles.

The downed utility line knocked out electric power to more than 1,900 customers in Mont Alto and surrounding areas from Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., when the storm came through, to Wednesday about 1 p.m.

Solomon said five customers still were without power Wednesday afternoon.

Crews were sent from Frederick, Md., to help Franklin County crews restore power, Solomon said.

Mont Alto firefighters closed Pa. 997 because live wires were down, including one in the Chaparral Tavern's parking lot, Stine said.

"The fire department told everyone in the tavern to stay inside, Stine said. "We just worked under candlelight. Around 9 o'clock, they told us we all had to leave the area, something about safety."

Martin Lum, owner of Older Car Restoration at 304 S. Main St. in Mont Alto, was bleeding the air from the brake lines of a 1929 DeSoto when the lights in his shop went out. He said he finished the job with a rechargeable LED light.

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