WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (CBS/AP) — The National Weather Service confirms two tornadoes struck Northeastern Pennsylvania on Wednesday night, damaging numerous businesses in a shopping plaza, overturning cars and downing trees and power lines. Six people were injured in the storm.
The National Weather Service in Binghamton, New York, sent two teams to Bradford County and Luzerne County early Thursday to survey the damage from the storm system that passed through Wednesday night.
The EF2 twister, with maximum winds of 130 mph, struck Wilkes-Barre Township’s shopping plaza late Wednesday night. The area was under a tornado warning at the time.
Investigators in Bradford County say that a second tornado caused the damage in Franklin Township. Officials say more information including an estimated intensity of the tornado and distance of its path would be released later Thursday.
Township police wrote on their Facebook page that there were reports of “multiple collapsed buildings.” They asked drivers to avoid the area to allow emergency personnel access to the shopping plaza.
Photos and videos of the aftermath show a shopping center in Wilkes-Barre about 110 miles north of Philadelphia, with roofs torn off, cars over turned and storefronts shattered. Similar photos surfaced Thursday morning from Granville, Franklin and Leroy townships about 90 miles further north of Wilkes-Barre showing collapsed structures and shattered windows.
Bruno Isles, a Panera employee, told the (Wilkes-Barre) Times Leader that he was washing dishes in the back of the restaurant at the time.
“My manager had us secure the doors,” he said. “We had tables and chairs flying through the windows.”
Isles said he suffered a minor scrape on his arm while he helped to get other people in the restaurant to safety.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania took to Twitter and urged people in the path of the storm to stay safe and “please heed the warnings and follow the directions of local officials.”
The National Weather Service said it would be in Wilkes-Barre Township on Thursday to survey the damage and determine whether it was a tornado that touched down.
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