MILTON — Heavy thunderstorms that blew through the Central Susquehanna Valley early Monday morning sparked an EF-1 tornado in Union County and fueled straight-line winds in Northumberland County, all of which toppled trees, caused some damage to buildings and knocked out power to thousands.
Union County Emergency Management Coordinator Michelle Dietrich, along with officials from the National Weather Service and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, toured areas of Buffalo and East Buffalo townships, as well as Lewisburg Borough, which sustained storm damage.
According to a release issued by Union County Public Safety, the National Weather Service determined an EF-1 tornado with straight-line winds followed a north-to-south path, touching down in Buffalo Township.
Several homes, barns and outbuildings sustained damage and numerous trees were knocked down in the storm. There were no injuries.
“After talking with several individuals and emergency responders, it helped to make an accurate assessment of what occurred during the early morning hours,” the release said. “Many residents advised they have never heard the sounds or remember a storm of such intensity and took shelter in their basements.”
Northumberland County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Stephen Jeffery said he and his staff toured East and West Chillisquaque townships.
“What we are seeing, the majority of everything has to do with straight-line winds,” Jeffery said. “We observed some damage throughout Mexico Road ... what we saw indicates straight-line winds.”
Jeffery said the storm primarily knocked down trees and caused some minor property damage.
John Banghoff, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in State College, said there were no plans to send a team of investigators to Northumberland County.
He said forecasters were examining areas of Benton to determine if a tornado had touched down there.
“There was some pretty consolidated damage in Benton ... and some additional damage in Millville,” Banghoff said.
A team from the National Weather Service was expected to visit Dushore Monday to determine if a tornado had touched down there.
Late Monday morning, PPL Regional Affairs Director Tracie Witter said 22,300 customers throughout PPL’s 29-county coverage area were without power.
“Since the start of the storm, our crews have restored power to about 55,300 customers,” she said. “We still have about 700 damaged locations across the territory to address, with more outages expected to occur (Monday).”
She said the continued wind guests were expected to contribute to the additional outages.
Witter expected power to be restored throughout Northumberland County by late Monday night. She anticipated power to Union County customers taking about 24 hours longer, with restoration anticipated by 11 tonight.
At 7 a.m. Monday, Witter said 1,384 PPL customers in Union County were without power. That number had been reduced to 594 by 11:40 a.m.
In Northumberland County, 2,631 customers were without power as of 7 a.m. Monday. That number had increased to 2,657 by 11:40 a.m.
“We have hundreds of workers and support personnel that will be working to get power restored,” Witter said.
Witter described Monday’s outage as being a “multi-day event.”
“We are prepared to work around the clock to restore power,” she said. “Our crews will continue to work as safely and quickly as possible around the clock until every customer is restored.”
In addition to utility crews working throughout the area, cleanup was also underway Monday.
Carter Schrock said the property his family owns along Follmer Road, near Milton, sustained damage which he expected to take most of the day Monday to clean up.
“We had a couple of roofs blow off our sheds,” he said. “Some shingles blew off (our house). We have quite a few trees down and some limbs.”
Vaughn Murray, West Chillisquaque Township supervisor, was inspecting the damage throughout the township.
“From what I’ve seen, there are trees down all over,” he said.
Murray spotted a tree down on top of a car in the area of Astro Village, as well as numerous other damage in the area.
Numerous roads were reported by PennDOT to be closed across Union, Northumberland, Montour, Columbia, Snyder and Sullivan counties.
Witter is advising everyone to avoid downed power lines and to report fallen wires to PPL by calling 800-DIAL-PPL.
“If you must run a generator, make sure you run it outdoors, in a well-ventilated area,” she said. “Use flashlights, not candles, to reduce fire risk.”