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Pennsylvania Tornadoes

When you think of severe weather in February you usually think of snow and ice, not tornadoes, but this hasn’t been a typical February. Based on 1991-2010, the U.S. has an average of 29 tornadoes in February each year, none of which are in the Northeast states.

tornado climatology map

February Tornado Occurrence Map from NCEI.

A strong storm system moved through the region on February 24th bringing heavy rain, strong winds, and 15 confirmed tornadoes. There were 7 in Virginia, 5 in North Carolina, 1 in South Carolina, and 2 in Pennsylvania.

Damage in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania indicated an EF2 tornado with estimated maximum wind speeds of 120-125 mph, maximum path width of 400 yards and path length of 4.7 miles. There were no injuries or fatalities, but an estimated 50 buildings sustained damage.

tornado damage

Photo of tornado damage in Lancaster County from NWS State College PA.

An EF1 tornado was confirmed in Bradford County, Pennslyvania with maximum winds estimated at 100 mph, path width of 100 yards, and path length of 1 mile. The tornado caused tree and roof damage.

tornado damage

Photo of tornado damage in Bradford County from NWS Binghamton NY.

There has been at least one other occurrence of a February tornado in Pennsylvania. On February 16, 1990 an F1 tornado touched down in Centre County with a path width of 350 yards and path length of 3 miles. The tornado caused damage to trees, road signs and outbuildings. The 1990 storm report indicates a previous February tornado, but the date is unknown.

tornado chart

PA tornado magnitude and frequency by month from 1881-2010