(LITITZ, PA-LititzDailyNews.com) A severe storm that may have spawned a tornado tore through three Lancaster County townships Saturday afternoon. It damaged homes and collapsed farm buildings while leaving a trail of toppled trees and downed power lines in its wake along a path estimated to be eight miles long.
“Here in Clay Township, Elizabeth Township, the Pennsylvania State Police helicopter that did the flyover said there was some minor damage up close to (Route) 501 in the Brickerville area, but the damage becomes more intense around Mountain Springs Road in Clay Township and then continues into the the village of Cocalico and West Cocalico Township,” said Randy Gockley, director of Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency (LEMA) in an interview with LititzDailyNews.com at the command post set up inside the Durlach Mt. Airy Fire Company on Saturday night.
One of the areas most heavily impacted appears to be bordered by Mountain Spring and Kleinfeltersville Roads on the west to Girl Scout Road on the East, running from just south of the Pennsylvania Turnpike north towards the Middle Creek Waterfowl Reservoir. The damage-causing phenomenon reportedly skipped along, dropping down then repeatedly retracting into the air leaving intermittent damage. Such behavior is consistent with activity observed in the tornado that touched down just off of Route 30 in September of 2015.
Remarkably, despite high winds, hail, and falling structures, it appears no one was hurt in Saturday’s storm.
“At this point, we have no reports of any injuries, even though the 911 Center did receive some phone calls from people who said they were trapped inside their homes because trees had fallen down in the yard blocking doors and in some cases fallen on their roofs, however, there were no injuries that anybody has reported,” said Gockley. “We’re very thankful and amazed that happened.”
He’s also amazed at what appears to be a rare February weather phenomenon that’s emerging in the county.
“The unusual thing is, last year around this time we had a tornado in village of White Horse. That was the first tornado since 1896 documented during the month of February in the state of Pennsylvania,” said Gockley. “So here you have two years in a row where you have high wind events during the month of February and possibly a second tornado when you haven’t had it for over a century. That’s to me, very unusual and something for the scientists to take a look at.” A 2015 tornado had three unusual aspects to it when it touched down in Lancaster.
While many roads throughout the area remain closed tonight due to downed trees and power lines, Gockley is optimistic that through the efforts of volunteers and emergency personnel, all roads will be reopened by Monday or Tuesday.
Gockley says he’s received reports of a funnel cloud over the area, and invites anyone with photos from the event to email him at RGockley@lancema.us, as the pictures could provide important clues to those from the National Weather Service who will begin investigating the storm damage on Sunday to determine if, in fact, a tornado touched down.
Anyone with photos of the funnel cloud or storm damage can post them as a comment on our LititzDailyNews Facebook page, email them to LititzDaily@yahoo.com, or tag us on our LititzDailyNews Instagram, or on our @LitizDaily Twitter.
This story will be updated overnight and again on Sunday. Please keep checking back for additional details and photos. If you took photos or video of the storm or damage, email them to LititzDaily@yahoo.com. Provide your name and contact info along with details where the photo was taken and the time it was taken.
Lynn Rebuck is the editor and publisher of LititzDailyNews.com, the national award-winning digital news site in Lititz, Pennsylvania. To support this independent news site, make a non-tax-deductible donation via the PayPal button at the right or below this story.