NWS: Tornado touched down

TORNADO North Beaver Township Lawrence County

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A tornado touched down in North Beaver Township on Wednesday, National Weather Service inspectors confirmed Thursday.

Inspectors determined the tornado an EF-1, the second-lowest tornado strength measured by wind speed, according to a preliminary report.

NWS meteorologists said the maximum wind speed topped at about 90 miles per hour and traveled for about a quarter-mile before it ascended. So far, no injuries were reported, but the storm destroyed a barn on state Route 160.

“The worst damage was the damage to the barn where they lost two external walls and the roof collapsed,” said National Weather Service Inspector Fred McMullen. “A roof collapsed at another barn. Here we have a lot of trees uprooted.”

The barn on Route 160 is owned by the Werner family. Ryan Werner spent most of Thursday assessing the damage and recalling the tense times during Wednesday’s storm.

“It’s always heart wrenching when you see something like this,” said Werner. “The biggest thing is no one got hurt. My grandma and my 72-year-old aunt were in the kitchen when this thing came through, and that was my biggest thing, making sure no one had gotten hurt.”

Werner said the barn was a landmark to locals in Lawrence County but said rebuilding likely will not happen. He said insurance wouldn’t pay for it and the construction of such a large barn would be too costly.

The tornado width was measured at about 250 yards and was the third tornado in the area this year. Two EF-1 tornadoes in Erie County injured seven people on May 28. The tornadoes touched down in Edinboro and Cranesville.

“We are lucky that it hit in a rural area,” said Brian Melcer with Lawrence County Emergency Service. “You do not want it to hit anywhere but in a rural area so most of the buildings that were affected were barns.”

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