40K still without power after western Pa. storms

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Some 40,000 customers remain without power in western Pennsylvania, most of them in the state’s southwestern counties where storms dumped heavy rains, downed trees and spawned at least one tornado.

National Weather Service investigators visited Lawrence County, south of New Castle, and confirmed that a funnel cloud touched down. It damaged a barn and other buildings on a farm near Route 168, about 45 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

No serious injuries have been reported from storms that struck late Wednesday afternoon and soaked already saturated areas, many of which flooded earlier in the day.

Most of those without power are in Pittsburgh or surrounding Allegheny County, or in neighboring Washington County, which stretches southwest to the Ohio border.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Some 40,000 customers remained without power in western Pennsylvania after storms that dumped heavy rains, downed trees and spawned at least one possible tornado.

National Weather Service investigators were expected to visit Lawrence County on Thursday as they try to confirm whether a tornado touched down where a barn and other farm buildings were destroyed in New Beaver.

“So far, dang near all the buildings are gone,” the farm’s owner, Ryan Werner, told WTAE-TV. A dairy barn and three machine sheds were destroyed, but Werner said his home was spared on the farm about 45 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

Matt Jackson told the station he witnessed the damage.

“I looked out and I could see debris from the barn itself and you could hear all the wood being splintered, and I see it all being sucked up into the sky,” Jackson told the station.

No fatalities or serious injuries have been reported from the storms, which hit late Wednesday afternoon and evening, soaking already saturated areas, many of which flooded earlier in the day.

Most of those without power are in Pittsburgh or surrounding Allegheny County, or in neighboring Washington County, which stretches southwest to the Ohio border. Duquesne Light was reporting about 27,000 customers still without power early Thursday, while West Penn Power was reporting more than 10,000.

The afternoon storms followed heavy rains that caused flash flooding that damaged homes and businesses and stranded some motorists in the morning.

The hardest-hit areas appeared to be the Route 51 corridor through the south part of the city and into the suburbs. Nearby areas, including Castle Shannon, Baldwin and Bridgeville, had some roads washed out and, as creeks overflowed onto low-lying areas.

Three inches of rain or more fell in some areas Wednesday morning at the rate of 1-2 inches per hour. The saturated ground prompted emergency officials to warn drivers to avoid roads that flooded in the morning and to abide by barricades later in the day with more storms forecast.

Another inch or two of rain fell in most areas during the afternoon and evening storms, but drier, slightly cooler weather driven by a northwestern air mass was being forecast Thursday. Temperatures were expected to top out in the high 70s, with only scattered showers likely.

blog comments powered by Disqus