SPC Stats

Path length: 2.62 miles

Width:  100 yards

Fatalities:  0

Injuries:  0

Rating:  EF2

County:  York

Tornado Path

SPC coordinates:  Start: 40.1062 / -76.9265  End:  40.1411 / -76.9071

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Summary

When people talk about the April 25-28, 2011, Super Outbreak, it’s about the violent tornadoes that terrorized the southern states. However, several strong tornadoes also occurred in areas of the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. Seven of which were confirmed in Pennsylvania. This summary delves into the most intense tornado to hit the state on this day.

This twister developed north of Fortney around 5:55 am EDT, on the main ski lift slope, at Roundtop Mountain Ski Resort. An 80-mph wind gust was recorded at the Roundtop weather station, located on the edge of the tornado’s damage path. At the resort, many trees were sheared off or uprooted. An older, run-down storage building that housed the original snowmaking compressors was leveled. The Roundtop Lodge and Learning Center had shingles and gutters torn off and windows smashed out. Other facilities at the resort sustained minor damage. The ski patrol chalet had a two-foot hole knocked through the side of it. A set of exterior stairs had their railing “badly bent,” and outdoor lighting fixtures were blown down. Crews from neighboring ski resorts came to help clean up the mess left behind by the twister.

The destroyed storage building.

Several trees were snapped near the entrance of the resort.

Tree blocking the entrance of the resort.

Mike Coy, a lift maintenance supervisor at Roundtop Mountain Resort, inadvertently drove into the tornado. Mike told the York County Dispatch that he needed to be at work by 7:00 am. When he woke up, the power was out. Mike lit a candle and looked at the clock, which he thought said 6:35 am. He hurried up and made his coffee, let the dog out, and then headed into work. As Mike was just getting to the resort’s driveway, he could see trees flying over the car, and the rain became so heavy that he could no longer see anything. Suddenly the car started to “vibrate,” and the driver’s side was lifted a foot or two off the ground. Thankfully, Mike was not injured.

After this harrowing experience, Mike looked at the time and realized he had read the clock wrong that morning. He actually woke up at 5:35 am. It was 5:55 when he drove into the tornado.

After leaving the resort, the twister crossed Roundtop Road and moved through a heavily wooded area for about 1.5 miles before emerging along Pinetown Road. In this area, the tornado reached its peak intensity of 130 mph. It twisted and collapsed a high-voltage metal truss tower. 70-80% of the trees along this part of the tornado’s path were snapped off or uprooted. Satellite imagery revealed that the tornado reached its peak width of about 220 yards just south of Pinetown Road.

The downed metal truss tower on Pinetown Road, via Storm Data Publication.
Blowdown on Pinetown Hill, as seen in November 2011 (USGS).

Along Moores Mountain Road, a large oak tree fell onto the home of Scott and Jennifer Dellinger. Jennifer looked outside and saw most of the trees in the yard “bending over” before snapping. She screamed at her husband to grab their kids and get downstairs. The large tree smashed through the corner of the house into their master bedroom and onto their bed. They had gotten up only a few seconds before the twister hit, and none of the Dellinger Family was injured. Jennifer told the York Dispatch, “it sounded like a freight train coming through our house.”

The tornado continued toward the north-northeast and crossed Siddonsburg Road, where many trees and powerlines were downed. It then dissipated about 100 yards north of Siddonsburg Road, 2.67 miles west of Lewisberry.

Photos from Carolyn H, Roundtop Ruminations Blog

Swath of trees downed along Roundtop Road.
Trees downed at the Roundtop Ski Resort.
More trees downed at the resort.

Video

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC/NCDC Databases, the April 2011 Storm Data Publication (SDP), the NWS State College Tornado Database, the original Public Information Statement (PNS), and satellite imagery and found the following discrepancies:

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC/SDP list a 2.61 mile path.
  • Original PNS found a 3.2 mile path.

    Path Width:

    • SPC/NCDC/SDP list a 100 yard width.
    • The satellite imagery reveals the width across Pinetown Hill was up to 220 yards.

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