4 tornadoes damage several Pittsburgh area communities

PITTSBURGH — The National Weather Service confirmed four tornadoes touched down in western Pennsylvania during the latest round of severe weather Friday afternoon.

The storms unexpectedly spurred three EF-0 tornadoes and one EF-1 tornado — the first within Pittsburgh city limits since 1998 — causing damage to trees and homes in several communities.

PHOTOS: Tornadoes, storm damage seen throughout Allegheny, Westmoreland counties

Severe Weather Team 11 worked to learn the strength of these tornadoes and see their impact on our community.

4 tornadoes touch down in Pittsburgh region, NWS confirms

After conducting surveys on Saturday, the NWS confirmed four tornadoes touched down in the Pittsburgh-area. Here’s where they touched down, their strength and information about the damage they did:

  • Harrison City, Westmoreland County: The NWS survey team confirmed an EF-0 with a maximum wind speed of 70 miles per hour touched down in Harrison City. It tracked from the Municipal Complex to the Greensburg-Jeannette Regional Airport. The NWS says this tornado created minor tree and structural damage.
  • Elizabeth/Elrama, Washington County: NWS surveyors rated this tornado as an EF-0 with a maximum wind speed of 80 miles per hour. NWS officials say damage from this tornado included homes losing shingles or siding, tree damage and destroyed furniture. A mobile home lost its porch roof and a swimming pool collapsed when the tornado tried to lift it.
  • Allegheny County Airport, West Mifflin: This tornado was rated an EF-0 with unknown wind speeds. NWS officials say it traveled a path of 0.6 miles after it started at the airport in West Mifflin. Video evidence helped NWS determine that the tornado traveled down Noble Drive. No one was injured by this tornado.
  • Washington Boulevard near the Highland Park Bridge, Pittsburgh: This tornado touched down near the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium and was rated an EF-1 with maximum wind speeds of 105 miles per hour. The zoo grounds were damaged, but no people or animals were hurt.

Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium assessing damage after EF-1 tornado touched down in Highland Park

The first tornado in Pittsburgh city limits since 1998 struck the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium Friday.

The tornado downed multiple trees, damaged fences, caused a power outage, toppled objects and spread debris throughout the park. Those falling trees crushed a car in the parking lot. The zoo said no animals or people were hurt.

Amidst the clean-up of pathways and the process of verifying all outdoor habitats were safe, the zoo still opened on Saturday, with modified operations.

>>> Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium will open Saturday amid tornado damage clean-up

Zoo officials say emergency drills helped keep everyone safe when the storm blew through.

“A shelter-in-place was called and staff did an incredible job getting everyone, both people and animals, into secure locations. Everyone did a great job handling everything. This is a clear testament that the severe weather drills we do pay off,” said Dr. Jeremy Goodman, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Elrama neighbors react after tornado blows through the area

Residents in Elrama, Washington County are picking up the pieces after the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado blew through their community Friday afternoon.

“It was loud, it fast, and it was gone,” said homeowner Deb Evans.

Dee saw the tornado in the Circle Avenue area around 3 p.m. Friday. She was sitting out back when the swirling winds picked up her three patio umbrellas, snapping one in half, collapsing another, and blowing the third away.

“I was sitting on my patio and then all of a sudden my umbrellas started lifting and I actually held on to one and it started to pick me up so I let go. My husband saw it fly past the window,” Dee said.

Next door, an above-ground pool crumpled and further down the street massive tree limbs plummeted to the ground, taking power lines down with them.

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