Briana Heaney Published

Destructive, Powerful Tornado Touched Down In Northern Panhandle

A yellow sign sits Infront of a blue sky. The sign is diamond shaped and has a drawing of a tornado on the inside of it.
The record for most tornados in a year in West Virginia is 15.
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A tornado touched down in Hancock County, destroyed multiple structures before turning to head into Pennsylvania on Tuesday night.

Tornadoes are ranked on a scale ranging from 0-5 known as the Fujita scale. This tornado is believed to be a 2-3 level tornado. 

Meteorologists have currently estimated that the tornado had winds of 140 miles per hour, double the wind speed of what is considered a weak tornado. Crews are still working to confirm the locations, and the strength of the storm.     

The tornado decimated a barn and blew the second story off of a house. Lee Hendricks, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said when sturdy structures are destroyed it is indicative of a powerful storm. 

“The damage was pretty substantial,” Hendrick said. “So we can look at the type of damage, what structures or trees or the surrounding indicators that we can see in the damage path. And we can take that and calibrate that to the Enhanced Fujita scale to give us a wind estimate on what caused that damage.”

This tornado marks the 11th tornado to touch down in the Mountain State this calendar year, which meteorologists at the Weather Service say is abnormally high. 

Hendricks said warm air coming through the gulf is stirring up weather in the midwest, which has recently been battered with powerful tornadoes. Then that weather heads east.

“It seems like every three days, we’re getting a fairly active weather system moving through our area,” Hendricks said. “Now as the weather starts to warm up and we get more opportunities for getting warm, humid air being pumped out on the gulf, and we’re still getting the strong systems coming out of the Midwest, we are increasing our chances for severe weather.”

Teams from the National Weather Service are still surveying the damage from a separate storm in Jefferson County.