As devastating tornadoes have hit parts of the country this spring, Pennsylvania has not been immune to the vicious storms. Pennsylvania averages 15 to 20 tornadoes a year. June and July are usually the peak months. With the latest confirmations, the state has already reached the average.
The National Weather Service in State College sent teams out on Friday to review damage from the night before. They confirmed at least four more tornadoes. All were given a preliminary rating of EF1. The confirmations came from near Hogestown in Cumberland County, in New Franklin in Franklin County, near Dauphin Borough in Dauphin County, and in Schuylkill County near Schuykill Haven . Then on Friday, a waterspout was reported on Raystown Lake and another EF1 tornado was confirmed near Calvin in Huntingdon County.
Peter Young is a warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in State College. He says some people might think that the mountains protect parts of Pennsylvania from tornadoes, but that really has not been the case. He says tornadoes have been confirmed across the state. He says in the 1985 outbreak, the state had large tornadoes go up one side of a mountain and come down the other side.
Tornadoes in Pennsylvania tend to be smaller in size and usually do not stay on the ground as long as storms that hit Tornado Alley. But Pennsylvania has seen one EF5 in its history, during that deadly 1985 outbreak in Northwestern Pennsylvania which also included an EF4 that stayed on the ground for an hour.
Young says people should heed tornado warnings when they are issued, and take shelter. He adds severe thunderstorms can spin off small tornadoes and those warnings should not be ignored.