Tornadoes are rare locally, but on Thursday night the second one in three days touched down in Schuylkill County.
The National Weather Service in State College confirmed that a twister with a EF-1 rating plowed down an 18 mile path from the Cressona area to West Penn Township on Thursday.
It had winds up to 110 mph, says the Weather Service.
On Monday night, an EF-1 rated tornado, struck an area one mile south of Brockton.
Monday's storm actuary spawned two local tornadoes – the other was in Franklin Township – but the weather systems on Thursday created more widespread damage.
After touring the storm damage in tandem with Schuylkill County Emergency Management via a state police helicopter yesterday afternoon, NWS officials determined that a tornado touched down at 8:15 p.m. Thursday, about one-half mile west of Cressona along Beaver Creek Road.
NWS personnel said it lifted and touched down several times before finally dissipating around 8:35 p.m. about a mile east of Leibeyville in West Penn. About 20 homes, along with 12 barns and outbuildings, were damaged by the twister.
The tornado took down over a thousand trees, says the NWS, with much of the damage occurring to the east-northeast of Schuylkill Haven, north of Route 443 through Northern Manheim, and in West and East Brunswick townships.
Significant tree damage was also observed in Connor and Hecla.
The tornado was just below the EF-2 level, which begins when winds reach 111 miles per hour.
Monday night's tornado in Schuylkill measured just a quarter mile in length and had speeds of about 95 miles per hour. The combination of the tornado and straight-line winds damaged three barns (one completely destroyed) and two homes.
PPL reports that more than 120,000 customers in their 24-county area had lost power at some point during Thursday's storm. This included over 9,300 customers in Schuylkill County and over 5,000 homes in Carbon County.
As of 10 p.m. yesterday, 48,000 customers in the 24 counties still were in the dark. This included 3,544 customers in Schuylkill, including 478 in West Penn Township and six in Tamaqua. There were 1,042 customers in Carbon and 5,908 in Monroe without power last night.
The Carbon total included 572 without power in Towamensing Township, 160 in Bowmanstown, 120 in Lehigh Township, and 70 in Kidder Township. Palmerton and Nesquehoning had 33 customers each that had no electricity yet by 7:35 p.m., while Mahoning Township had 24 customers and Summit Hill had 18 customers.
On Thursday night, there were a series of storms in the area, the first arriving at about 6:30 p.m. In the Panther Valley area and Tamaqua, this first storm proved to be the most destructive.
It packed baseball size hail that caused serious damages, especially to homes and vehicles. Many vehicles had broken windows and multiple indentations from the hail balls.
Some homes also had broken windows.
The heaviest hail damage was reported in Lansford, Tamaqua, Coaldale, Summit Hill, and Hometown.
The series of storms Thursday was also responsible for downing trees, tossing storage sheds, and putting a thick blanket of leaves and branches on many roadways including Route 54 between Hometown and Nesquehoning.