One hail of a storm
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS A trio of cars in the parking lot of St. Catherine Drexel Catholic Church, Lansford, have back windows missing as a result of the hail storm last evening. Hail the size of oranges smashed windows on about a dozen cars of people attending the graduation of preschoolers of Our Lady of the Angels Academy. Throughout the Panther Valley and Tamaqua area, literally hundreds of cars were damaged.
Balls of hail larger than anyone can remember ever falling on the region caused widespread damages last night, especially in the Tamaqua and Panther Valley areas where literally hundreds of cars were damaged. Many of those cars had windows knocked out.
The National Weather Service confirmed the hail that fell in Lansford and Summit Hill was three inches in diameter, about the size of an orange.
The hail was part of a series of storms which swept through the region, packing winds that felled power lines and trees. There were widespread power outages throughout the region.
Leaves matted roadways including Route 54 in Hauto. Miraculously, nobody was reported seriously injured.
Mary Berk of West Abbott Street, Lansford, said she watched the storm.
"I thought the Apocalypse was coming," she said. "I was really afraid."
Berk, in her 80s, has lived all her life in Lansford and never experienced such a storm. The storm broke a bedroom window.
Last night's storms came only three days after two tornadoes swept through Walker and Franklin townships. There were also unconfirmed sightings of funnel clouds last night.
The storms were accompanied by a spectacular lightning show during which several streaks could be seen skipping across the night sky simultaneously.
The storm resulted in more than 100,000 people in 29 counties in eastern and central Pennsylvania to lose power, according to the PPL website.
As of 7 a.m. today about 70,000 customers remained out of service, including nearly 7,000 in Schuylkill County and 1,548 in Carbon County.
Some of the unconfirmed funnel sighting locations included a wooded area about a mile behind the Tamaqua Senior High School in Walker Township, eastern part of Lansford, Summit Hill, Archery Club Road in New Ringgold, North Manheim Township, Schuylkill Haven and other areas in Carbon county.
Borough and emergency volunteers throughout the area worked most of the night clearing roads of debris, unclogging storm drains, closing roads, responding to downed trees, providing pump details and responding to many other weather-related incidents.
A home in McAdoo was struck by lightning.
In Palmerton, there were reports on Lafayette Avenue of a tree on a car and on Columbia of a tree on a residence.
About a dozen cars in the parking lot of St. Catherine Drexel Church in Lansford during the preschool graduation of Our Lady of the Angels Academy had windows broken out from the hail.
The main walkway on the side of the church was blanketed with hail and became very slippery until the ice melted.
Inside the church, the sound of the hail stones striking the building sounded like giant baseball bats striking the structure.
David Semmel of Semmel's Hill Road in Mahoning Township had a large shed with bicycles and other items lifted in the area and thrown onto his neighbor's property, and into some trees.
He also had a "huge hut" that was flipped over.
Semmel is without electricity and was informed it might not be restored for him until Saturday.
He said some wires, including the cable wires, were ripped from a utility pole.
Some families in Walker Township are still recovering from Monday's high winds and tornado. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), the Walker Township tornado that touched down after 6:30 p.m. Monday, nicknamed the Lewistown Valley Tornado, pushed 95-mph winds. That storm system, which only lasted a few minutes, destroyed a historic storage barn, damaged 10 homes, damaged two cattle barns and uprooted or split over two dozen trees.
The EF-0 storm that struck in Franklin Township on Monday had winds estimated at 75 miles per hour and traveled .2 miles.
As of this morning, there were no confirmed reports of tornadoes as the NWS didn't have much information on the storms. It will be collecting and examining data through the day.