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'It went by so fast': Mercer County man saw rare winter tornado touch down

An EF-1 bounced along Smith Road just north of New Lebanon on Tuesday morning

NEW LEBANON, Pa. (WKBN) - The National Weather Service confirmed Wednesday that a second tornado hit our area on Tuesday. This one was in New Lebanon in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Wednesday morning, the NWS surveyed the damage.

Only the seventh recorded January tornado for Pennsylvania, an EF-1 bounced along Smith Road just north of New Lebanon around 11:30 Tuesday morning.

"January is the month when you think of salt for your driveway and snow shovels, not clean up tree damage from a tornado. This was, again, a rare event," said Fred McMullen, a NWS Pittsburgh meteorologist.

Wind gusts of 95 mph tore apart trees along a nearly three-mile stretch.

"When we see really warm air -- 25 degrees warmer than normal -- well, that means when a cold front comes through and it becomes winter the next day, that usually means there's some potential for some significant weather," McMullen said.

While uncommon, the National Weather Service said it's a reminder that these severe weather events aren't just for summer.

Ted Kuczynski, who lives on Smith Road, said he saw the funnel touch down.

"Doing chores on my horses and I heard this god awful noise. People say it sounds like a train. It sounded, to me, like a hail storm. It was a black funnel cloud. Not like you see out west but really low to the ground, lightning everywhere. It went by so fast, it was kind of up and down motion."

No one was hurt and the homes on the road suffered little damage, but they were left without power for most of the day.

"Property damage was just the limbs down and we had some minor damage to the garage," Jeff Burncheck said.

Kuczynski went out and started cleaning the road himself so crews could get to the power lines.

"I got my backhoe after I went down to the township and told those guys there was a bunch of garbage on the road," he said.

Trees were bulldozed down Tuesday afternoon and Kuczynski said it didn't take long for Davey Tree to arrive and help get power restored.

"At 3:17 this morning, I got a call from the power company," he said. "Power was back on. I mean, I've been down for 11 to 12 days at a time."


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