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Multiple confirmed tornadoes tear through Pittsburgh area, leaving trail of damage

<i>KDKA via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Cleanup is underway throughout the Pittsburgh area as several communities were hit with suspected tornado damage.
KDKA via CNN Newsource
Cleanup is underway throughout the Pittsburgh area as several communities were hit with suspected tornado damage.

By Mike Darnay, Ross Guidotti, Chris Hoffman, Patrick Damp

Click here for updates on this story

    PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Cleanup is underway throughout the Pittsburgh area as several communities were hit with suspected tornado damage on Wednesday evening.

Four tornadoes have been confirmed in the Pittsburgh area so far through surveys or debris signatures, National Weather Service Pittsburgh said.

An EF-2 with winds up to 115 mph touched down south of Route 22 in Westmoreland County, tearing a path from Delmont to Shieldsburg to New Alexandria.

An EF-1 with winds around 90 mph skipped along a path from Old Steubenville Pike near the intersection of Route 22 and Potato Run Garden Road in the area of Oakdale.

Another one appeared to end near Jeannette, though the National Weather Service hasn’t released additional details on it.

Severe weather struck and moved through the area quickly, bringing down trees and power lines and leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

The National Weather Service said that several radar-confirmed tornadoes moved through Western Pennsylvania with large trees brought down in different parts of our area like North Fayette, North Versailles, East McKeesport, Derry Township and Penn Township, to name a few.

The National Weather Service will have crews going out today to perform storm surveys to determine if tornadoes touched down and determine their severity.

Crews are expected to look into damage reports from at least six different areas in the region.

People were picking up the debris in North Fayette Township on Thursday after several trees came crashing down.

There was a beautiful blue sky on Thursday, but on the ground, there were downed trees, wires, and debris. Mother Nature left her mark in Finley, North Fayette and Oakdale.

“The wind and the rain, you couldn’t even see anything,” Libby Hallum said about the storm rolling over her house.

Hallum came out of her house to find a tree had uprooted and smashed into her yard. A few branches landed on their roof, but there was no substantial damage. It landed just feet from her and her husband’s North Fayette home.

“I’ve been here 50 years and that’s at least how old that tree is at least,” she said about the damage.

There was more of the same around the area of Whittengale Road in North Fayette. Crews were hacking up trees, fixing power lines and clearing roads. The National Weather Service was out surveying the damage.

Alicia Miller with the NWS said coming into Thursday, their forecast area, which moves beyond just southwestern Pennsylvania and includes parts of Ohio and West Virginia, has had 22 confirmed tornadoes so far this year. Normally we have six to nine for the year.

“So, we are well over our normal amount at this point,” Miller said while surveying the damage.

Hallum said the alert to her phone got her and her husband to safety. They both made it to the basement. According to Miller, they try to get warnings and watches out as soon as possible. Minutes can save lives during the severe weather.

“The radar did indicate it with giving us some lead time it appears, but sometimes it is within a couple of minutes,” Miller said.

Tree crews made their way to the Hallum’s house. Even with several trees littering their property, Hallum realized it could have been worse and counted her blessings.

“We’re lucky we have a house. We’re fortunate and blessed,” she said.

Somehow with all of this damage, there have been no reports of any injuries.

Westmoreland County cleans up after tornado In Westmoreland County, a pole barn had its roof ripped off by those incredible storms and it’s been the job of the National Weather Service to go about and find out how intense and what kind of storm created this.

“A lot of it was just significant tree damage. It was like a whole cluster of trees that were pretty much snapped. We did see some outbuildings that got damaged, part of a farm,” Shannon Hefferan with the NWS said.

Hefferan and Evan Bookbinder were one of the crews sent by the National Weather Service to figure out just what hit the area.

“It started in Trafford and worked its way east just west of the Derry Township area,” Hefferan saud.

“It was pretty nasty. I looked out one time and all you could see was white. Just white,” said Vince Paola, who lives along Boquet Road in Boquet, Westmoreland County. He’s got a lot of timber down.

“We went down stairs, we didn’t hang around,” he said.

Paola not the only person to seek shelter as the storm hit but a compared to others he’s in pretty good shape. And it’s not lost on Paola that this has been a very interesting year when it comes to tornadoes.

“There’s been a bunch of them, there’s been a bunch of them, yeah,” Paola said.

“It’s pretty typical for June to have tornadoes but the volume of tornadoes that we’ve gotten April to now is just unprecedented,” Hefferan said.

Storms destroy fireworks stand in North Versailles In North Versailles, Wednesday night’s storms ruined a firework stand ahead of its busiest weekend.

For eight years, Mark Loving set up a tent outside of the Walmart on Lincoln Highway and last night he and his family were in the tent when the storm blew in, destroying all of his merchandise.

“It lifted the tent up, it threw the tables, like a tornado or something, lifted those barrels up like they were nothing,” Loving recalled.

He said he lost $50,000 worth of merchandise but said that TNT Fireworks will restock his tent soon.

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