Southwestern Pennsylvania has already surpassed yearly average of tornadoes at 10 total

PITTSBURGH — UPDATE 5/20/24: Less than one week later on Friday, May 17, we added four more tornadoes to that number, making a total of 10 tornadoes in southwestern Pennsylvania so far this year.

Elrama/West Elizabeth was hit with an EF-0 tornado with max winds at 80 mph. An EF-U tornado touched down in the West Mifflin area just north of the Allegheny County Airport near Noble Drive. The National Weather Service reports no known damage in the area from this tornado. The Highland Park tornado was rated an EF-1 tornado with max winds near was 105 mph. The final tornado from that night moved through Harrison City in Westmoreland County, with max winds at 70 mph and was rated an EF-0.


Initial coverage:

The start of May has been an active one for southwestern Pennsylvania. Tornadoes ripped through our area in the early morning hours on May 8th and the evening hours of May 11th, 2024. That’s a total of six tornadoes in southwestern Pennsylvania in just those two days alone.

Looking at the climate data, we are above average already this season. Our average sits at six tornadoes a year. This data is from over 70 years (1950-2020) showing that we are just getting into the start of severe weather season with the peak in June and a very active month that follows in July.

On Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in the very early morning hours, an EF-2 with max wind speeds at 130 mph tracked from Jefferson County, Ohio into Hancock County, West Virginia and crossed into Beaver County, Pennsylvania before lifting. This was the strongest tornado of the six tornadoes. The next tornado followed just a short time later, an EF-1 with max sustained winds at 105 mph, hitting the Findlay Township area in Allegheny County. The last tornado that touched down that morning was an EF-1 with max sustained winds at 100 mph in Ligonier township, Westmoreland county.

On Saturday evening, May 11th, 2024, another strong EF-2 tornado hit the Finleyville area in Union Township with max sustained winds at 118 mph. An EF-0 tornado hit the New Salem & Lambert area in Fayette County with a max wind speed of 65 mph. That same evening the last of the six tornadoes, an EF-1 touched down with max wind speeds of 90 mph near The Glades area in Fayette County and crossed into Preston County, West Virginia before lifting.

The majority of these tornadoes are on the stronger side for southwestern Pennsylvania, and we have had as many as we average in a year in just that short timeframe.

Before we get into the peak of tornado season (June) for the Pittsburgh area, it’s always a good idea to make a severe weather plan before severe weather hits. Remember you want to make sure to get to a basement when a tornado warning is issued. If you don’t have a basement, make sure to put as many walls between you and the exterior walls of the building you are in. Interior closets and bathrooms are good places to be if you can’t get to a basement. Make sure to cover yourself with blankets and a mattress if possible. Shoes help from getting cut from potential glass as well. Make sure you stay away from outside walls and windows. The injury reports we have received from the recent tornadoes have been cuts from glass due to broken windows. Mobile homes and vehicles are not a safe place to be during a tornado warning. Make sure to seek shelter in a sturdy building.

Severe weather can strike fast, as we have seen across the Pittsburgh area this spring. Make sure to have a way to get weather alerts, You can download our Severe Weather Team 11 App. Alerts come right to your phone and always make sure to check the forecast.

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