2012-06-07 / Front Page

Heavy Rain, Winds Here But No Tornado

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By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

In spite of all of the warnings, watches and hoopla surrounding Friday’s wet weather, Fulton County residents for the most part escaped relatively unscathed from the rain and winds that buffeted the area.

At 1:50 p.m. on June 1, the National Weather Service out of State College, Pa., announced a tornado watch would remain in effect for eight hours for Fulton as well as 11 other central Pennsylvania counties, including neighboring Bedford, Franklin and Huntingdon counties. Cities that could have potentially been affected by a tornado at that time were McConnellsburg, Chambersburg and Mount Union.

A tornado watch is typically issued when weather conditions are optimal for the formation of a tornado. Since any thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado is defined as severe, a tornado watch also automatically includes a severe thunderstorm watch. In most cases, the potential exists for large hail and damaging winds in addition to a tornado.

On Friday, the Weather Service’s tornado watch was also accompanied by a severe thunderstorm warning through 3 p.m. According to doppler radar, a severe thunderstorm was observed near Claylick moving north at a speed of 35 miles per hour. It was said at the time that the storm was capable of producing damaging winds in excess of 60 miles per hour.

The National Weather Service anticipated the severe storm to hit the Fort Littleton area around 2:35 p.m. and impact major roadways such as the Lincoln Highway and Great Cove Road.

“While not immediately likely ... a tornado may still develop. If a tornado is spotted, act quickly and move to a place of safety in a sturdy structure such as a basement or small interior room on the lower floor,” the National Weather Service said in its announcement.

Following the weather alert and in spite of circulating rumors, Fulton County Emergency Management Agency Director Ruth Strait confirmed that the county did not experience a tornado touchdown. While the weather forecast pretty much fell short in northern Fulton County, certain areas did have heavy winds and downpours.

Strait said Needmore and areas located south of the small village seemed to have received the largest amount of rainfall.

In fact, Strait reported flooding did occur in several areas, including at the intersection of Crossroads and Great Cove roads and Back Run Road. In addition, flooding was also reported to EMA officials and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation on the 1200 block of Pleasant Ridge Road, Johnson’s Mill Road and around Cowans Gap State Park. Wires were also down in the area off Lions Park Drive, Strait added.

While some confusion seemed to exist on Friday afternoon and the days following on whether a tornado actually touched down here, residents interested in receiving the most up-to-date weather reports can visit Pennsylvania’s online alert system. By creating an online account at https://alert.pa.gov, residents can have emergency weather updates sent directly to their computer, cellphone, pager or smartphone.

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