The Philadelphia area suffered on Thursday the effects of at least three destructive tornadoes. The powerful storm caused power outages, wreckage and downed trees.
As reported by the Washington Post, at least one of the tornadoes warranted a rare “particularly dangerous situation” tornado warning along the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border and leveled a car dealership, lofting debris miles into the atmosphere and causing significant damage. Several people were injured.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), a front of strong storms culminated with 14 tornado warnings in Pennsylvania and New Jersey counties on Thursday afternoon.
The NWS says the tornado that hit the Bensalem and Trevose areas in Bucks County, Pennsylvania on Thursday night has been classified as a powerful EF-3.
The National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J., which serves eastern Pennsylvania, most of New Jersey, Delaware and much of the Delmarva Peninsula, was scheduled to inspect at least a dozen swaths of tornadoes damage.
3:30 PM: A confirmed EF3 tornado in Bucks County in the Bensalem/Trevose area with peak winds to 140 mph. The storm damage survey team mentioned the most intense damage was to car dealerships and an adjacent mobile home park. More details tonight. #pawx
— NWS Mount Holly (@NWS_MountHolly) July 30, 2021
The worst damage occurred at a car dealership in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County northeast of Philadelphia. The structure lost its roof, with insulation strewn about the parking lot. Vehicles were flipped. The Faulkner Buick GMC and Volvo dealership suffered serious damage; five people were injured.
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“We had been considering (a tornado emergency)in our back pocket,” said Brian Haines, a meteorologist at the Weather Service in Mount Holly, referring to the most dire type of alert the Weather Service can issue. Tornado emergencies are reserved for the most high-end tornado threats that are likely to result in fatalities.
“A situation when we’d consider it would be a devastating tornado causing damage in an urban area with loss of life looking likely,” Haines said. “We already had that ready to go.”
His office dispatched five survey teams to investigate a dozen strips of reported damage across their county warning area. Other tornadoes spun up along the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.
Historically the most prolific tornado events in Pennsylvania and New Jersey occur in July. In the Deep South and on the Plains, tornadoes are most common in the springtime during the annual clash between winter and summer air masses.