May 1, 2017 was an active severe storm day in western and central Pennsylvania. After a couple days of summer like temperatures, a strong cold front moved through bringing cooler temperatures. The Storm Prediction Center had most of Pennsylvania under “enhanced risk” for severe weather. At the time of writing, it feels more like a fall day than a spring day.
I was documenting the storm that moved through at the Jacksville Esker at West Liberty and Mt. Union Roads in Worth Twp, Butler County, PA. I chose that vantage point because I am able to get a great view of the storm and I have a couple escape routes. I started the morning at Moraine State Park. Conditions were rainy. The dew point was 64 and the temperature was 68 degrees. At first, I thought that the rain and cloud cover was going to limit any chance of storms. But as the rain moved out and the sun peaked out, I knew that the line of storms in eastern Ohio were going to strengthen. That line of storms had a history of producing 70 mph winds. I observed patches of blue sky. The sun making an appearance was deceiving. As the sun warms up the atmosphere, it causes it to become unstable. Instability is one of the ingredients needed to fuel storms. At 12:35 pm, most of western PA was under a tornado watch. At 2:17 pm, a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Butler County. Shortly after, a tornado warning was issued until 3 pm. On my radar, I noticed what appeared to be a “J hook” near Prospect. According to the National Weather Service, a tornado touched down in Prospect, PA. It caused EF-0 damage. Reports of wind damage was reported throughout the county. Thankfully nobody was injured.
While chasing the storm, I observed a wall cloud. after the first round of rain moved through. There was period when it was rain free. Then, the winds picked up and the rain was coming down in sheets. Visibility was near zero. My Scrubblade wipers were set to high. Area schools delay dismissal because of the inclement weather. After the line of storms moved through, the skies cleared and the temperatures were cooler. Temperatures this week are forecast to be below normal. Here are some pictures and my footage from my intense storm chase.
Skies darken as the storm approaches.
Tornado warning was in effect for Butler County.
High winds and heavy rains made visibility non existent.
The sun peaking out and patches of blue sky were deceiving as the storms were approaching.