A National Weather Service survey team has determined straight-line winds with peak gusts estimated at 80 mph were responsible for a path of damage Sunday in Maxatawny Township.
The survey team visited the township Monday morning, the day after a windstorm cut through the eastern half of Berks County, toppling trees and bringing down power lines over a wide area but most severely north of Interstate 78 in the township.
The survey team found no evidence of a tornado.
The top wind gust recorded in Berks during the storm was 63 mph. It was recorded in the Lowe’s Home Improvement parking lot near Hamburg just after 6:30 p.m. Sunday, but it’s likely that gusts even stronger than that occurred where there were no instruments available, said Randy Adkins, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.
According to the national Weather Service survey team out of Mount Holly, N.J., winds estimated as strong as 80 mph caused a 1.8-mile-long, 150-yard-wide swath of destruction between 6:48 and 6:51 p.m. in Maxatawny. The damage included a roof that was peeled off a storage building on Arlan Berger’s property on Kunkel Road, nearly collapsing it.
Berger said he was in his house when he heard what sounded like a large firecracker detonating.
“I thought someone was shooting at my house,” he said.
No one was hurt.
Straight-line winds are spawned from downdrafts — intense columns of air that shoot from thunderstorm clouds, smack the ground and spread sideways in gusts, according to meteorologists.
While a tornado’s rotations scatter debris everywhere, straight-line winds live up to their name and blow in one direction.
More than 9,000 Met-Ed customers in Berks were without power at the height of the storm, with about 1,300 of them in Maxatawny, said Todd Meyers, a spokesman with Met-Ed parent company FirstEnergy Corp.
Statewide, Met-Ed was faced with more than 100,000 outages, he said.
The Berks outages were reduced to fewer than 1,400 customers by daybreak Monday, and by evening it was down to fewer than 300.
Only a few dozen customers scattered over several municipalities were awaiting restoration of power as of 6 a.m. Tuesday, the utility reported.