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    Jesse Ferrell

    Central Pennsylvania is Now the Storm Mecca

    By Jesse Ferrell, Meteorologist/Community Director
    4/21/2014, 7:34:20 AM

    UPDATE: 7/19/13 I finally got my time-lapse of the June 25th storm completed... and it needs no introduction! Thanks B94.5 for having me on the radio this morning to talk about Pennsylvania Storm Chasing (audio available soon).

    UPDATE: 7/18/13 The June 27th storm was bad enough that Centre County is asking for a federal disaster declaration.

    I'm not sure that I've seen a severe weather season this active since I've lived in Pennsylvania. I moved here in 1997 and spring of 1998 was my first severe weather season here in State College, Pa. That spring was unusually virulent, but this summer we've seen 18 days in which the SPC put 95 percent of our state in a General or Slight Risk for severe thunderstorms:


    I've been so busy storm chasing that I couldn't even blog until today. In the last 18 days, over a thousand spotter reports have been collected by the NWS offices that cover our state, and over 500 official warnings (mostly Severe Thunderstorm) have gone out from those offices.


    This is likely the longest, if not most severe period that I've seen since I've lived here. Since June 5, we've only had one day in which a General Risk hasn't touched some part of the state. The Pennsylvania Storm Chasers Facebook Group, of course, has been out in force and captured many photos and video. Here's a sampling of what I've witnessed:

    Tuesday, June 25: Epic Storm!

    This storm started a week of severe weather insanity like I've never seen in central Pennsylvania, and it was the most photogenic one of all. Here's what the radar looked like at my location:


    That massive storm moved over me at the Beaver Avenue Parking Garage in downtown State College (photo from Nikon 1 J2 below, videos coming soon). It brought frequent lightning, high winds (the car was rocking!) and flooding rain.


    (Thanks to The Borough of State College for giving me permission to film from there, and to GetWireless.net for the wifi. I use RadarScope and LightningPlus for radar and lightning data).


    Thursday, June 27: Tornado and Flood!

    Two days later, I was at work with my stepdaughter when reports started coming in of a tornado in Boalsburg (a couple miles south of State College). Then a video surfaced. I couldn't believe it. Centre County has only had 10 tornadoes since 1950. But looking at the radar, rotation was evident in that area. Then suddenly a much larger area of rotation started to move between Boalsburg and State College on the radar.


    At this point I started to get concerned. I called my wife to tell her to take shelter but the rotation passed south of town, not dropping any tornadoes. Extremely heavy rain fell (one of our forecasters said the amount, over 3 inches, was the heaviest he had seen in his 30 years here). When I gave my wife the all-clear, she reported that our yard was under water, even deeper than the anomalous September 2011 event, and water was flowing on either side of the house. She took these pictures (yes, that's me attempting to clean out the street grates).


    I took a couple other photos when I got home (the water had receded some) then drove out to take additional local flooding pics in Pine Grove Mills (SW of State College):


    The next day, after seeing a picture of the tornado...


    ... and hearing that the NWS declared it EF-1 damage, I visited the site of the tornado. It was tornado damage all right, things shoved into the ground and wrapped around trees:


    Friday, June 28: Hail!

    As if the week hadn't been active enough, a thunderstorm developed on Friday afternoon, dropping the largest hail I've ever seen at AccuWeather HQ, and the second largest I've seen since I lived here. Here's raw video of myself, Henry Margusity and other meteorologists watching the storm come in (lightning, shelf cloud). Henry leaves before the hail starts, but has to turn back and run into the building while being pelted by hail.

    The largest hail at AccuWeather HQ was quarter size (1 inch diameter), but larger hail, to golf ball size (1.75 inches diameter) was seen between AccuWeather and my house about two miles away. In that narrow band, there was damage to houses, including vinyl siding (my neighbors), shingles and shutters (my house).


    Sunday, June 30: Rainbow!

    To wrap up the week of severe weather, a rainbow appeared on Sunday, June 30 during extremely heavy rain, after another thunderstorm passed through. What a great end to a severe weather week.


    The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com


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    Jesse Ferrell