Rock Street floods in Shamokin, power outage hits county's southern end; tornado report false
A stormy Thursday evening produced flooding on Rock Street in Shamokin and a lengthy power outage in the Herndon-Dalmatia area.
The good news was that, despite a tornado watch being issued as a line of storms moved across Pennsylvania in the late afternoon hours, none developed - even if a photo posted on Facebook suggested otherwise.
The photo showed a tornado in an open field, and the photographer claimed it was taken north of Northumberland. But the National Weather Service (NWS) in State College did not receive reports of a tornado or wind damage in the county, and the Northumberland County Communication center said had zero reports of a funnel touching down.
The 911 center, meanwhile, was busy with pump details and utility investigations.
The heaviest rain occurred between 4:30 and 6 p.m. when the storms, associated with an upper level disturbance, dumped close to
2 inches of rain, making travel difficult and producing significant runoff. A flash flood watch was issued by NWS at 5:26 p.m.
In Shamokin, three residents experienced basement flooding around 6 p.m. when a pump designed to carry water out of a 16-inch storm drain near Patsy's Bridge along South Rock Street and over a creek wall into Shamokin Creek failed to kick on, Councilman William Milbrand said.
Firefighters from Friendship Fire connected their engine to the pump to force water out of the drain, which was installed in 2011 to prevent basement flooding after the Flood of 2011. Before installation, the drain routinely back-flowed Shamokin Creek into homes connected to the line when the creek rose above the height of the drain.
Milbrand, a member of Independence Fire Company, was not present at Rock Street because of another fire call, but was informed of the situation from fire chief staff.
"For some unknown reason, the pump failed," Milbrand said. "The Shamokin Fire Bureau responded and aided the residents in pumping the basements."
Mayor George Rozinskie Jr., who is out of town, was kept abreast of the situation, according to Milbrand. Members of the sewer authority also responded, but Milbrand was unsure Thursday evening whether the issue had been resolved.
Northumberland County Department of Public Safety reported at 6:45 p.m. that TDS Telecom phone service in the lower end of the county was out and wireless phone service was intermittent. Residents with emergencies were advised to go to their local fire department. Fire units were placed on standby until the issue was corrected around 7:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, approximately 1,180 PPL customers were without power in the Herndon-Dalmatia area due to a problem with the Sunbury-Dauphin 69KV transition line that occurred at 4:13 p.m. It affected 13,000 customers total, said Teri MacBride, regional affairs director for PPL Susquehanna Valley.
"The event affected five substations, including the one in Dalmatia," MacBride said.
She said late Thursday a cause had not been pinpointed, but that the outage was weather-related. She said crews were using alternative feeds to help restore power to some areas.
As of 9:50 p.m., 811 customers were still without power in Northumberland County, 810 of them in the Herndon-Dalmatia area. MacBride said about 10 p.m. that PPL was expecting to restore power fully in the area by 1 a.m.
Several areas of the state were hit hard by severe weather, including flooding rains and at least one possible tornado. According to the NWS, radar estimated that the DuBois area received 7 to 10 inches of rain.
Units from Upper Augusta Township Volunteer Fire Company were enroute Thursday evening to Clinton County to assist with water rescue operations, according to an official from the Northumberland County Department of Public Safety.
A video shot near Boalsburg in Centre County showing what appeared to be a tornado was posted on Facebook. The NWS could not confirm a tornado, but said a tornado warning was issued for Clinton County and north Centre County. A separate warning was also issued for Juniata County.