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Weather service to determine if storm that struck near Greencastle was a tornado

Franklin County, Pa., damage-assessment teams investigated around the 12000 block of Williamsport Pike

August 27, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Phil Risser uses a tractor to upright a sileage wagon that was toppled Sunday at his farm on Williamsport Pike duirng a storm that came through Greencastle, Pa.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Faye Stouffer waited inside Sunday while a storm roared outside, eventually ripping an antenna off her home and toppling a tree in her yard.

Officials said the storm might have produced a tornado.

“All of a sudden, (there was) one big noise, and wind took everything. It was sort of like a train sound or roar,” said Stouffer, of 1301 Preston Lane.

The National Weather Service in State College, Pa., was expected to send a meteorologist to the site sometime Monday,  meteorologist Elyse Colbert said Monday morning.

A determination as to whether a tornado touched down could be reached by Monday afternoon, she said.

The 2 p.m. winds tossed shutters, siding, farm equipment, tree branches and a portable basketball hoop.

Franklin County, Pa., damage-assessment teams investigated around the 12000 block of Williamsport Pike.

A retired U.S. Navymeteorologist, 911 callers and police officers witnessed what they believed to be a tornado in the area, said Dave Donohue, director of the Franklin County (Pa.) Department of Emergency Services.

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That funnel cloud continued north to Williamson Road but might not have touched down in that area, he said.

The winds created a vacuum effect in Rich and Patty Hart’s house, and slammed their doors shut. The storm ripped siding from their 3829 Williamson Road home and threw it into a cornfield across the street.

“It was like Kansas. ... I’ve never seen wind like this before,” Patty Hart said.

“We had winds of at least 60-plus miles per hour,” Rich Hart said.

Five shutters, sections of a porch banister and shingles came off 1175 Olive Drive while the owners, Jeff and Bev Shaffer, were at a church dinner. Bev Shaffer said the damage could have been worse.

“God just protected our place,” she said.

Stouffer and Shaffer, who are neighbors, said their area is often badly hit by storms. A Labor Day storm in 2011 destroyed one of the Shaffers’ big trees, and Stouffer remembers two other storms similar to Sunday’s in the 25 years she has lived there.

This one took down a mature tree in Stouffer’s yard.

“We’ve had a couple storms, but this is the worst we’ve ever had,” she said.

The storm also uprooted a large tree at 3420 Williamson Road, and threw debris across sections of Williamson Road, Enoch Brown Road and Guitner Road. It toppled bricks from a sign at Shanks Church of the Brethren.

One Twitter user described seeing a funnel cloud that he found “scary and awesome at the same time.” He told The Herald-Mail (@HMinPA and @HeraldMailNews) the funnel cloud tossed a tractor 100 to 200 feet. 

The storm initially caused power outages for about 100 people. Online systems for West Penn Power showed power was restored by evening.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch Sunday.

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