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Strong winds hit Lancaster

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Emily Smith, an instructor with Premier Sailing, snapped this photo of a funnel as it formed over the Tides Inn resort in Irvington. A group of young sailors with Premier Sailing had thankfully just finished a lesson when the winds approached. According to Tides Inn general manager Gordon Slatford, the inn didn’t sustain much damage. However, the bees were pretty upset that the storm blew the tops off their hives.

by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

Witnesses called it a tornado. Others classified it as a possible microburst. Whatever it was, a weather system that blew through lower Lancaster County Monday afternoon had some residents running for cover.

Nancy Kellum receives weather alerts on her phone. At about 2:15 p.m. Monday, August 7, she said the weather service was calling for mild showers in the area of her home on James Lane in Weems.

About 45 minutes later, “everything was swirling around and around in the backyard. All the furniture was flying in the air and into the pool.” It was a little more than a mild shower, said Kellum, whose patio and pool area was filled with overturned metal and wicker furniture, broken gazing balls, limbs and debris. A large branch that had fallen from neighbor Daniel Howard’s tree split her fence. On the way down, it also partially crushed his car.

“It just looked like a shower on radar,” said Lancaster County chief of emergency services Terrence McGregor. And although photos and video on social media have shown a funnel cloud over Carter Creek in Irvington, “the damage was not consistent with a tornado on the ground. It was more consistent with straight line winds or a microburst.”

Forecasters with the National Weather Service of Wakefield were scheduled to survey the damage in Weems and Irvington sometime Tuesday to determine whether it was indeed a tornado, according to McGregor.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newsstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 08.09.2017

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