PITTSBURGH - The National Weather Service confirmed Friday that a tornado touched down and caused damage in Eighty Four Thursday afternoon
It was around 4 p.m. Thursday when a strong storm rolled through many parts of the Channel 11 viewing area.
The NWS said the tornado reached maximum wind speeds of 85 mph. The tornado had a 1.5 mile long path and was 150 yards wide.
Severe Weather Team chief meteorologist Stephen Cropper said the turbulent weather activity came on the back end of a substantial weather system that generated heavy rainfall. However, the National Weather Service had no active watch or warning in place at approximately 4 p.m., when the tornado reportedly touched down.
A lot of damage was reported along Route 519, next to the 84 Lumber headquarters.
Several trees were snapped in half, sheds were damaged and roadside signs were knocked over.
Drivers who were caught in the path of the storm said it lasted about five minutes, and then it was done.
"It was scary. I called my husband and said, 'I think a tornado just came through here.' Thank God I was just a few minutes behind schedule, because I probably would have been right in the middle of it," said Amy Cook.
"I looked out the window, and it's getting pitch black out. Then we heard the wind blowing and saw the rain, sheets of rain going this way, going that way. The lights flickered, and I heard the rumbling sound," Kimberly Giebel said.
Officials with the National Weather Service said no tornado warnings were issued because of the short-lived duration of the possible tornado.
“In some cases, tornadoes have straight-line winds and hail, so they may not be detected by the radar in certain circumstances. I think that was the case yesterday,” National Weather Service employee Matthew Kramer said.
According to Kramer, the storm was so low-topped and shallow that their four-and-a-half minute radar loop missed it.
The same storm system also caused a lot of damage in West Mifflin. Several trees and sheds were also damaged in that area.
The roof and porch of one man's upper deck was torn off his Grant Avenue home.
Joe Kuzma said he and his wife ran into their basement after he saw what appeared to be a funnel cloud headed straight for his home.
"There was just all kinds of stuff up in there. Just a black cloud spinning around," Kuzma said.
In Reserve Township, downed trees and power lines from the storm blocked Spring Garden Avenue. Police said the roadway was expected to reopen sometime Friday morning after Duquesne Light crews made repairs.
Rebecca Cribbs, from the Greater Washington Food Bank, was inside when the wind started blowing, and she used her cellphone to record video of the storm.
“It just flashed, and then we went outside and saw everything. It was crazy,” Cribbs said. “I never thought I would live through something like that or even experience anything like that.”
Rodney Holub was at a nearby business and said he saw a funnel cloud headed toward him.
“I heard the loud noise, the wind, the rain, and I ran to the front door. That’s when I saw the cloud behind us,” Holub said. “It was behind there, and trees were flying. You could see it twisting. It was incredible.”
Despite all of the damage, no injuries were reported.