Emergency officials continue to investigate the cause of isolated damage to a Dover Township mobile home park, but they're now saying it's likely the result of a straight-line wind.
Unlike a tornado's rotating wind force, a straight-line wind is so named because it pushes debris in its path in a single direction.
A trailer at 6410 Dupont Ave. was blown from its foundation, and its awning was sent sailing through the air, impaling the master bathroom of a home next door at 6420 Dupont Ave.
Across the street from both homes, a 30-foot-tall pine tree was apparently blown over, its roots exposed as the top of it rested against another mobile home.
Chuck DeLauter, the township's emergency management director, said crews initially believed a tornado could have been responsible.
He said the path of destruction "just laid over in one direction, like an arrow pointing where (the wind) went."
Debris: The powerful wind frightened the neighbors and left a mess of skirting and debris.
Kendall Coleman, 74, whose master bathroom was skewered from the outside, said he would have "had a pretty big headache" if he had been sitting on the toilet Monday night when the awning slammed into the side of his trailer.
His wife, 69-year-old Carolyn Coleman, said she was watching "Dancing with the Stars" in another room, just as she does every week.
"All of a sudden, there was this shaking and rumbling and force hit the trailer back here," she said, standing in front of her spa-size tub Tuesday. "I heard the mirror shattering."
"I couldn't believe what I saw," she said. "It really scared me."
Sticking through the interior bathroom wall, positioned at about where a head would be if a person of average height were engaging the toilet, was a metal awning rod with nails projecting from it.
The couple, whose bedroom adjoins the master bathroom, slept in the living room after the chaos ended Monday night, she said.
The owner of the trailer at 6410 Dupont Ave. wasn't home at the time the apparent weather event, emergency workers said, because he was in Florida.
Scattered debris: While the damage appeared to be limited mostly to one portion of Dupont Avenue, residents elsewhere were scouring for skirting and cleaning up debris.
Terry Warehime, 55, of 6455 Dupont Ave., said he thought the damage was caused by a tornado.
"The whole place was shaking," he said. "I heard the gas humming and smelled gas right after it went through..."
Columbia Gas spokeswoman Rachel Ford said the wind knocked the trailer into a meter and created a leak, "which is why residents probably could've smelled the gas."
The company responded to the scene and turned off gas to the cattywampus trailer, but service to the rest of the park was never interrupted, Ford said.
Bruce Budd, meteorologist in-charge at the National Weather Service in State College, said tornadoes are more common during severe thunderstorms than hurricanes, and the reported hurricane-related gusts of between 50 and 60 miles per hour would have been enough to cause the damage described at the trailer park.
"What we found from last night is more than 1,000 reports of damage ..." he said. "Wind can move a house off its foundation."
- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.