National Weather Service investigators visited Lawrence County, south of New Castle, and confirmed that a tornado touched down where a barn and other farm buildings were destroyed Wednesday in New Beaver near Route 168.
"So far, dang near all the buildings are gone," the farm's owner, Ryan Werner, told WTAE-TV. A dairy barn and three machine sheds were destroyed, but Werner said his home was spared on the farm, located about 45 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.
Weather service meteorologist John Darnley said the tornado was rated as an EF1, with 90 mph winds. That's the second-lowest category on a six-level scale. Its path on the ground had a maximum width of about 250 yards and a length of about one-quarter mile.
Matt Jackson told the TV station he witnessed the damage.
"I looked out and I could see debris from the barn itself and you could hear all the wood being splintered, and I see it all being sucked up into the sky," Jackson told the station.
Despite the frightening weather, no fatalities or serious injuries were reported from storms that struck late Wednesday afternoon and evening, soaking already saturated areas, many of which flooded earlier in the day.
Most of those without power are in Pittsburgh or surrounding Allegheny County, or in neighboring Washington County, which stretches southwest to the Ohio border.
Duquesne Light was reporting about 27,000 customers still without power early Thursday, while West Penn Power was reporting more than 10,000.
The tornado was spotted about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday as a new line of heavy storms moved through the region. Those followed heavy rains that caused flash flooding that damaged homes and businesses and stranded some motorists Wednesday morning.
The hardest-hit areas appeared to be the Route 51 corridor through the south part of the city and into the suburbs. Nearby areas, including Castle Shannon, Baldwin and Bridgeville, had some roads washed out and, as creeks overflowed onto low-lying areas, others were left caked in mud or littered with the occasional dead fish.
Three inches of rain or more fell in some areas Wednesday morning at the rate of 1-2 inches per hour. The saturated ground prompted emergency officials to warn drivers to avoid roads that flooded in the morning and to abide by barricades later in the day with more storms forecast.
Another inch or two of rain fell in most areas during the afternoon and evening storms, but drier, slightly cooler weather driven by a northwestern air mass was being forecast Thursday. Temperatures were expected to top out in the high 70s, with only scattered showers likely.