Tornadoes in and around Schuylkill County Pennsylvania
Tornadoes are quite rare in our area of Pennsylvania; though, certainly not unheard of. Therefore, being aware of the potential danger of tornadoes should be part of your preparedness planning.
The two most recent events within the county took place in May of 2011 within days of each other. A relatively small, EF1 tornado struck in the Lewistown Valley area of Walker Township, damaging some farm buildings and structures. This particular event was short lived and only impacted a small geographic area. Several days later, another EF1 tornado weaved a path through the county from the area of Washington Township near the golf course, through rural areas of Wayne, North Manheim, West Brunswick and East Brunswick Townships (about 16 miles distance and about 600 feet across). Several residential areas were impacted and the roof was blown off of the historic Seven Stars Hotel (on right). The National Weather Service provided staff to survey the damage and determine the type of wind and the strength, based on damage observed from both ground level and from a helicopter.
Tornadoes have also struck more recently in Columbia during April of 2019, Luzerne in June 2018 and a very unusual situation that occurred in Lancaster Counties in February of 2016, when a winter tornado caused an estimated $8 million damage. As tornadoes are very unpredictable and originate from thunderstorm cells, it is imperative that you remain vigilant and react quickly to seek protection, as tornadoes can form with little to no warning. You may encounter a tornado while at home, at work or while traveling, knowing the dangers and the actions necessary to seek safety are essential.
Though severe in the area impacted, the total area involved in this EF1 tornado event of May 2011 was less than 0.25% of the total area of Schuylkill County.
Tornadoes can destroy buildings, flip cars, and create deadly flying debris. Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air that extend from a thunderstorm to the ground. Tornadoes can:
- Happen anytime and anywhere;
- Bring intense winds;
- Look like funnels.
IF YOU ARE UNDER A TORNADO WARNING, FIND SAFE SHELTER RIGHT AWAY
- If you can safely get to a sturdy building, then do so immediately.
- Go to a safe room, basement, or storm cellar.
- If you are in a building with no basement, then get to a small interior room on the lowest level.
- Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls.
- Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You’re safer in a low, flat location.
- Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death.
- Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN A TORNADO THREATENS
- Know your area’s tornado risk. In the U.S., the Midwest and the Southeast have a greater risk for tornadoes.
- Know the signs of a tornado, including a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud; an approaching cloud of debris; or a loud roar—similar to a freight train.
- Sign up for Schuylkill Alert, your county’s warning system.
- The Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) can be received through you cellular phone if you are in areas under a warning. Please insure that the alert feature is not de-activated on your device.
- The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts. If your community has sirens, then become familiar with the warning tone.
- Many media outlets also feature mobile alerts to your smart phone, consider signing up for the service.
- Pay attention to weather reports. Meteorologists can predict when conditions might be right for a tornado.
- Identify and practice going to a safe shelter in the event of high winds, such as a safe room or a storm shelter. The next best protection is a small, interior, windowless room on the lowest level of a sturdy building.
Additional safety measures can be found at https://www.ready.gov.