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Sunday tornado confirmed at Bucks County campground; Pa. exceeds annual twister average

It wasn’t much, and it didn’t last long, but National Weather Service investigators have confirmed that a tornado touched down Sunday at the Beaver Valley Campgrounds in the Ottsville section of Tinicum Township, Bucks County.

Pennsylvania tornadoes by county in the last 70 years. The state already has exceeded its annual average for twisters this year.
Pennsylvania tornadoes by county in the last 70 years. The state already has exceeded its annual average for twisters this year.Read moreNational, Pennsylvania Emergency Management

The National Weather Service on Thursday confirmed that a weak tornado — no injuries were reported —touched down on Sunday at the Beaver Valley Campgrounds in Bucks County.

The weather service said an EF-1 tornado, with peak winds of 95 mph, swirled through about a quarter-mile of the property in the Ottsville section of Tinicum Township. It stayed on the ground for about a minute, the weather service said, and “dozens of trees were uprooted.”

With the sightings in Bucks and another in Lancaster County on Sunday — which the weather service said came “very close” to the Pennsylvania Turnpike — 16 tornadoes have been confirmed in the commonwealth this year; the average for an entire year is eight.

The Lancaster County twister, which touched down near West Cocalico Township, was also an EF-1, but the winds were slightly friskier — 105 mph. It uprooted dozens of trees and caused some minor damage to mobile homes.

Investigators determined that damage was caused by rotating winds, rather than in a “straight line.”

It isn’t as though circular winds are somehow more ferocious, but the investigators are motivated by a mix of the public’s curiosity and science. It is one way the weather service keeps track of “false-alarm rates” for tornadoes, the object being to get better at this.

Correction: An earlier version of this version is this story listed an incorrect number of total tornadoes this year in Pennsylvania.

Currently, about 75 percent of all tornado “warnings” are false alarms.

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