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Lightning strike kills 2 teenagers in western Pa., tornado touches down in NJ

By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
June 14, 2019, 2:58:23 PM EDT

A stormy Thursday in the Northeast turned deadly after a lightning strike killed two teenagers who were fishing at a park in western Pennsylvania.

The victims, both 18 years old, were identified as Brendan McGowan of North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and Kaitlyn Rosensteel of Donora, Pennsylvania. The two had been fishing at Mammoth Park Lake in Mount Pleasant, about an hour southeast of Pittsburgh.

The Westmoreland County Coroner's office said the incident occurred at approximately 4 p.m. and the victims had suffered injuries consistent with lightning strikes.

fatal lightning strike

Witnesses at the scene said they heard a loud crack and saw a large flash near where the two had been fishing. The two victims were discovered under a large splintered tree, according to the coroner's report.

According to Trib Live, the strike occurred on a peninsula that juts out into the lake.

These were the first lightning-related deaths in Pennsylvania since Aug. 13, 2016.

Four lightning-related deaths have now been reported in 2019, with three of those coming this week. On Sunday, a motorcyclist was struck and killed in central Florida.

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Since 2006, there have now been 40 lightning deaths related to fishing, according to the National Lightning Safety Council.

A concentrated area of severe weather unfolded from northern Virginia to the Philadelphia area, bringing reports of flooding and damaging winds in addition to two confirmed tornadoes.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Mount Holly, New Jersey, said video footage posted on social media confirmed a tornado touched down in the town of Mullica Hill, New Jersey, late Thursday, about 25 miles outside of Philadelphia. A clear funnel was observed with debris being lofted into the air. The video captured by a home surveillance camera showed the harrowing moment that backyard furnishing were tossed into the air like toys.

A preliminary storm survey conducted by the NWS indicated that an EF0 tornado caused the damage in Mullica Hill. The team found that the tornado may have briefly lifted off the ground before causing EF1 damage farther to the northeast, just south of Deptford.

No injuries were reported.

This is the second tornado of the year for New Jersey, which typically averages three per year. An EF1 tornado occurred in Sussex County, New Jersey in late May.

The National Weather Service in Cleveland confirmed an EF0 tornado developed near Huntsburgh, Ohio, on Thursday between 3:06 and 3:10 p.m. EDT. The estimated peak winds were 84 mph and no injuries were reported.

Storm damage was also reported in New Castle County, Delaware, according to 6ABC.

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