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Tornado vs. Straight Line Winds

WAYMART, Pa. -- The National Weather Service out of Binghamton confirmed an EF1 tornado touched down in Wayne County Tuesday. A National Weather Service team out of State College only found evidence of straight line winds in central Pennsylvania.

"When a tornado moves, you will see trees and power lines actually converge to a point. They will meet at a point. Whereas if you have a high wind event, the damage tends to hit one spot wider and spread out," said Douglas Butts, NWS Binghamton meteorologist.

The NWS said the EF1 tornado hit near Waymart with wind speeds up to 110 miles per hour.

"Definite path where the trees kind of met at a point and kind of converged at a single point. We saw that definite path," Butts said.

But the tornado wasn't as evident as the damage may have appeared. For hours, meteorologists with the NWS were only seeing damage produced by straight line winds.

"We don't see that here. We see more of the fanning out of the trees as the wind hits the ground from the thunderstorms," said Butts.

It's early in the assessment process, but meteorologists don't believe the tornado was on the ground for very long, a few hundred yards possibly. They will determine an exact path and width based on the pictures and data they bring back to the National Weather Service office in Binghamton.

"Seeing the data points overlaid on a map helps us make that final adjustment to the track."

Although a tornado warning was never issued for this part of Wayne County, there was a severe thunderstorm warning. That went into effect just after 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Meteorologists say that if you're in either a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning, to make sure you get to the lowest level of the building, surround yourself by as many walls as possible and cover your head.

"As we enter thunderstorm season, have a plan and know what you're going to do in case bad weather happens."

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service say it will take about another day or so to determine exactly how long it was on the ground, as well as its exact path and width.