EF2 tornado confirmed in Berks County, EF1 in Sussex County, New Jersey after Tuesday storms, NWS says

Walter Perez Image
Thursday, May 30, 2019
EF2 tornado confirmed in Berks County
EF2 tornado confirmed in Berks County. Walter Perez has more on Action News at 6 p.m. on May 29, 2019.

MORGANTOWN, Pa. (WPVI) -- The National Weather Service has confirmed that an EF2 tornado touched down in Morgantown, Berks County Tuesday night.

NWS officials also confirmed an EF1 tornado in Sussex County, New Jersey.

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An EF2 tornado ranges in speed from 111-135 mph, whereas an EF1's speed ranges from 86-110 mph.

The NWS made their assessment in Berks County after surveying damage in the area and viewing video they received showing the tornado on the ground.

A funnel clound has been spotted near Morgantown, Pa on May 28, 2019. (video: Michelle McGinn)

"We have some devastation," said Chief John W. Scalia with the Caernarvon Township Police Department during a press conference on Tuesday night.

Officials in Morgantown, PA hold press conference after reports of tornado on May 28, 2019.

Scalia said several homes were damaged and as many as a dozen people were displaced, but no injuries were reported.

Andy Quinn's home was one of the first hit.

He says he was in the living room as the storm winds ripped off a chunk of his home's front wall.

"It sounded like a bomb went off in the living room. And as you can see it looks like a bomb went off in the living room," he said.

Morgantown resident Cathy Riffey said she had about a five-minute warning to get to a safe space.

The tornado warning blared on her phone at around 6 p.m. Tuesday, giving her enough time to seek shelter in a bathroom inside her townhome.

Chopper 6: Storm damage in Morgantown, Pennsylvania on May 29, 2019.

"It sounded just like a freight train. Just like they say," said Riffey. "It was kind of deafening to your ears."

Riffey says the whole ordeal was over in about 30 seconds. And when she came outside, she couldn't believe what she saw.

Her car had been tossed out of its parking spot in the Valley Ponds neighborhood lot and pushed into the grass next to the clubhouse and pool.

"My car was just over there," she said pointing across the parking lot to a section of grass next to a playground. "Everyone else's (car) was parked in a nice in a row. And mine was picked up (by the twister)."

Residents across the state of Pennsylvania and New Jersey brace for severe weather as reported by Katie Katro during Action News at 11 on May 28, 2019.

On Wednesday morning, speed bumps that were once in the road had been blown into the grass, and chairs from the neighborhood's pool were scattered across houses that were blocks away. A black iron fence that once surrounded the pool was bent and torn into sections.

"There was a shed back here (by the pool)," said Tom Taylor. "That's gone. I don't know where the shed is."

Workers with the NWS will be in the neighborhood Wednesday to try to assess the strength of the storm.

Residents say they recall one strong storm hitting the area about six years ago, but it doesn't compare to the twister that hit Tuesday night.

Nearly a third of the homes in the neighborhood had some sort of damage, from collapsed roofs, to peeled-off siding and shattered windows.

Cars throughout the neighborhood were also damaged.

Amazingly, no one was hurt.

"Very thankful for that," said Taylor. "The Lord was watching over us here."

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