Delaware tornado confirmed near New Castle

DELAWARE (7/10/2015) The National Weather Service late this afternoon confirmed that extensive damage at a trailer park and industrial buildings north of New Castle was caused by a tornado.

A funnel cloud was seen in the area on Thursday evening, New Castle County police said early today.

It was one of two confirmed tornadoes to strike the Mid-Atlantic area Thursday night as severe storms moved across the region, knocking down trees and power lines. In Delaware, the storms left more than 6,000 electric customers without service. A few dozen were still out this evening.

The weather service said the Delaware tornado was rated an EF-0, the lowest level, with estimated top wind of 65 mph. Its path was 225 feet wide and a half-mile long.

No one was injured.

The tornado struck between 7:50 and 7:55 p.m., striking first at the Mobile Home Village community at 3115 New Castle Ave. (Route 9).

It moved eastward, sheering off a utility pole and a tree on Revis Avenue, then damaging a commercial building on Harbor View Drive, where a wall collapsed and there was roof damage, the service said.

The tornado also toppled several trees on Dock View Drive, in the Delaware River Industrial Park, where building damage had been reported earlier.

The funnel cloud was observed 25 to 30 feet above ground, Officer First Class Tracey Duffy of New Castle County police said early today.

As a result, she said, a roof collapsed on an apartment building within the mobile home park, and several electrical poles snapped, leaving wires down and several residents without electricity.

Duffy said an electrical transformer landed inside one of the homes in the park.

About 2,000 feet east of the mobile home community, she said, walls were reported collapsed on two commercial buildings on Dock View Drive, including the Iron Mountain shredding business.

Duffy said residents displaced by structural damage to their homes may seek shelter at the reception center at William Penn High School, 713 E. Basin Road.

She said the county’s Office of Emergency Management is working in the damage areas.

DelDOT reported just before 11 p.m. Thursday that Route 9 was closed between Lambson Lane and Rogers Road due to utility poles down, and it remained closed at 9 this morning.

At 10:15 p.m. Thursday, Delmarva Power’s website noted more than 3,700 customers in New Castle County and 1,700 in Kent County were without electricity. At 8:45 a.m. today, more than 1,000 customers in New Castle County were still without service, almost all of them in the New Castle area. And only about 60 remained out by 9:30 tonight.

The Delaware Electric Cooperative reported more than 600 members in Kent County lost service Thursday night, with all but one of them back in service by this morning.

The National Weather Service said emergency officials had reported that a large number of trees were down along U.S. 13 between Greenwood in Sussex County and Woodside in Kent County.

A wind gust of 61 mph was recorded at Brandywine Shoals in Delaware Bay, according to the weather service. And a gust of 47 mph was measured at New Castle Airport before 8 p.m.

At 8:10 p.m., Cynthia L. Guenzer tweeted, “Route 1 north and southbound Kent County Delaware bad driving conditions, little visibility from storm, dozens pulled over.”

Hockessin and Cranston Heights firefighters responded to a house fire on McCormick Drive in Hockessin that was reported as a possible lightning strike.

Another fire in Milford about 9:30 p.m. was reported as a possible lightning strike.

The other tornado confirmed Thursday night struck in Berks County, Pennsylvania, about 6:40 p.m.

The weather service said it was rated an EF-1 with top winds of 105 mph. Its path was 75 yards wide and 3/4 of a mile long.

The most serious damage was to the Blue Mountain Elementary School in Tilden Township, where the roof was torn off and the building was a total loss. One person was inside and had to be rescued and evaluated, the weather service said.