Tornado touchdown confirmed in Ligonier

Relatively low winds caused Neville Island roof collapse

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National Weather Service officials have confirmed that a tornado touched down in Ligonier on Friday.

The EF1 tornado damaged 75 homes and businesses, officials said. There were no injuries. Officials are touring the area and assessing damage.

The tornado traveled in a north-northeast direction, doing sporadic damage along an 8-mile-long path, that was 300 yards across at the widest point. Officials estimated winds reached 105 mph.

In Pittsburgh, winds of only 35 mph--far below that of a severe thunderstorm--were recorded at 4:10 p.m. Friday immediately before the Sports and Golf Dome on Neville Island fell to the ground, but it's likely the microburst that hit that area was packing more punch than that, the National Weather Service said today.

"The only [wind] data we have indicates the winds were only 35 mph but our radar data and survey indicate the winds were probably higher than that," said National Weather Service meteorologist Charlie Woodrum. He noted that some trees in the area were uprooted by the microburst, which he said appeared to be on the weaker side of such a weather event that can reach wind speeds of more than 100 mph.

As many as 30 people, staff and visitors practicing their golf skills escaped without injury as the dome, made of a strong polyvinyl material and normally kept aloft by a series of fans, collapsed within 15 seconds to a minute.

"In a structure like that, if there's a crack or the integrity gives way, it won't take severe winds to bring it down," Mr. Woodrum said. "The microburst just caught it the right way, just enough to bring it down, unfortunately."

region - neigh_east - neigh_westmoreland

Michael A. Fuoco: First Published June 2, 2012 1:45 PM


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