CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado with wind speeds of 90 mph touched down in New Franklin on Thursday night.
A meteorologist from the weather service in State College, Pa., assessed the damage in Franklin County Friday and concluded that a tornado touched down at 6:10 p.m. on Thursday.
Tony Mach of the weather service said the twister was rated an EF-1 on the enhanced Fujita scale, with wind speeds of 86-110 mph.
The scale ranges from an EF-0 with wind speeds from 65 to 85 mph to an EF-5, with wind speeds greater than 200 mph, Mach said.
The tornado touched down just west of Pa. 316 in a heavily wooded area, where more than a dozen pine trees were snapped off, Mach said. He said the twister left a path 25 yards wide and 200 yards long.
The tornado damage area was located on the southern edge of a much larger area of wind damage extending from just west of Interstate-81 in the Marion area east through Brownsville, Mach said.
He said there were no injuries as a result of the twister.
On Friday, from one end of Franklin County (Pa.) to the other, people were cleaning up after getting slammed by Thursday night's storm that brought damaging wind, rain and hail.
Although there were emergency calls from throughout the county, Guilford Township, which includes Chambersburg and Fayetteville, was hit the hardest by the storm, said Meghan O'Brien, assistant director of Franklin County emergency services.
"We did have a very bad storm. We do have downed power lines. We had downed trees. We did have some road closures due to trees down and some water," O'Brien said.
John Winkler, 3148 Lincoln Way East, Fayetteville, Pa., couldn't believe his eyes when he saw a funnel cloud form behind his house Thursday night.
"I was in the basement, and I came up to get some stuff before it got too bad. It was just getting ready to pour down rain, and I saw the shape of it behind the house — about a half a mile behind the house," Winkler said.
As he looked across Pa. 30 at the aftermath of the storm and the remnants of a 20-foot billboard sign sheared off by high winds and a tree ripped up by its roots, Winkler said he thought a tornado had touched down.
"I've never seen something like this here. I've been through tornadoes before but not here," Winkler said.
Along Quarry Road in Chambersburg, Pa., a tree was split in half as if sliced with a butter knife. Brechbill Trailer Sales' sign, along Pa. 30 west in Chambersburg, was flipped upside down by the heavy winds.
Mike and Connie Hair and many of their neighbors along Spring View Drive in Chambersburg, Pa., got hit hard by the storm.
While Mike Hair sawed down limbs from his 50-year-old maple tree, Connie Hair picked up downed limbs scattered around their yard.
"It took 50 years for this tree to grow and in two minutes it was knocked down," Mike said, as electrical wires hung in the tree.
Their next-door neighbor's yard looked like a mini-war zone, with trees and limbs strewn about the yard. A treehouse was demolished by one of the huge limbs that appeared to spear the tiny wooden structure through the center.
"It could be worse," Connie Hair said. "They could be digging through rubble to find my identity."