Multiple tornadoes confirmed in the Pittsburgh region

The Pittsburgh area has already experienced four confirmed tornadoes on Friday.

The National Weather Service has confirmed the touchdown of four tornadoes in different areas. These include near Harrison City in Westmoreland County, in the vicinity of Lincoln-Mount Vernon-Elrama in Allegheny County, on Washington Boulevard near the Highland Park Bridge near Aspinwall, and a “brief, weak tornado” that was photographed just north of the Allegheny County Airport, as reported by the National Weather Service.

Pittsburgh has experienced a month filled with active weather. Pennsylvania alone has already witnessed six tornadoes this year. Notably, the coverage area of NWS Pittsburgh, which includes parts of Ohio and West Virginia, has recorded a total of nine tornadoes in May alone.

May 2024 has witnessed a higher number of tornadoes in the Pittsburgh area compared to any other May in history. This includes May 1985, which experienced a super outbreak on May 31 of that year, as confirmed by First Alert Meteorologist Ray Petelin.

A video circulating online captures what appears to be a tornado or funnel cloud in the vicinity of Hyland Road near Harrison City.

Video footage taken from East Liberty, with a view towards the Highland Park Bridge, showed what appeared to be a tornado or funnel cloud around 4:45 p.m. The National Weather Service (NWS) later confirmed it as an EF1 tornado, with a damage survey team reporting maximum wind speeds estimated at 105 mph.

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According to an official from NWS Pittsburgh, the recent tornado caused damage at the Pittsburgh Zoo. Additionally, numerous trees and power poles were snapped along Washington Boulevard and near the Highland Park Bridge. Fortunately, the tornado lifted shortly after crossing the Allegheny River.

Friday has been designated as a First Alert Weather Day due to the possibility of severe weather.

Pittsburgh-area cleaning up after tornadoes

The National Weather Service is currently conducting storm surveys for the tornadoes. The surveys started with one in Aspinwall on Friday evening. Additionally, surveys will also be conducted in the Mount Vernon-Elrama area and Harrison City.

KDKA-TV’s Chris DeRose reported from Washington Boulevard near Allegheny River Boulevard, where crews were working hard to clear away fallen trees. An official at the scene expressed frustration over the timing of the incident, particularly during rush hour.

A funnel cloud was spotted at the Pittsburgh Zoo, causing damage to the zoo’s grounds. Fortunately, the zoo confirmed that all animals, guests, and employees are safe. Currently, an assessment is being conducted, and further details will be shared at a later time.

A resident in Elrama described the storm as passing through her backyard and causing significant damage to her pool, according to a viewer who spoke to KDKA-TV.

Governor Josh Shapiro reassured the public that his administration is actively coordinating with local officials to provide assistance in the aftermath of the tornadoes. In a social media post, he expressed their readiness to offer support wherever it is needed.

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Why has Pittsburgh seen so many tornadoes this year?

The early occurrence of these weather events is puzzling. According to Fred McMullen, a meteorologist at NWS Pittsburgh, one of the main factors contributing to this phenomenon is the absence of cold air this winter.

Earlier this week, McMullen explained to KDKA-TV that when a region experiences a rapid transition from a cold winter to a warm season in spring, it creates the perfect conditions for moisture to accumulate and wind shear to occur.

Tornado season in western Pennsylvania typically reaches its peak in June, and there may be more tornadoes on the horizon.

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