A band of severe thunderstorms, carrying damaging winds in excess of 50 mph and frequent lightning, tore through Williamsport and the vicinity Saturday afternoon leading to dozens of emergencies that kept responders busy into the evening hours.
The sheer number of calls all at once taxed emergency dispatchers working at the Lycoming County Communications Center as the storm made its way through the city about 4 p.m. The highest wind gust of 58 mph was recorded at the Williamsport Regional Airport. Earlier, the temperature reached 99 degrees at 2:30 p.m., according to Elyse Colbert, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in State College. The July 7 record temperature for the city of 101 degrees was set in 1988, she said.
The storm, which dumped nearly a half-inch of rain, moved swiftly through and in some cases the sky returned to its bright clear glow in about 30 minutes. Large thunderheads were seen in the distance north of the city. Dispatchers handled multiple calls for assistance as power lines were downed by trees, wires were arcing and trees endangered structures.
A tree knocked down electrical wires and blocked a road leading into Schmohl’s Trailer Park, west of Cogan Station, Saturday evening.
Shortly before 4:30 p.m., Muncy Township Fire Co. personnel responded to a report of people being trapped in their vehicle outside a business on Route 220 due to electrical lines falling on it or nearby the vehicle. PPL crews were contacted to be sure the wires were not "hot" before those in the vehicle could safety exit. The number of power outages reported in Lycoming County was not known as of Saturday night.
Arcing wires were reported at the Halls Station Sub Shop on Lycoming Mall Drive in Muncy Township, where officials said the building caught on fire briefly. Over the span of an hour, dispatchers received multiple calls for assistance, both during the height of the storm and in its aftermath.
Near Cogan Station, Hepburn Township Fire Co. officials responded to numerous reports of trees down and rushed to Carone Drive, where part of a house roof had blown off.
"We've got trees down all over," dispatchers were told by fire personnel north of the city.
A tree fell across an entrance road to Schmohl's Trailer Park, just off Sawmill Road west of Route 973.
Numerous wires were down in the city, too. A tree reportedly fell near or on a house in the 1000 block of Elizabeth Street near Brandon Park.
Trees were laying on wires in the 2000 block of Poco Farm Road in Loyalsock Township. A tree was down on Brick Church Road in Clinton Township and at 130 Pine Crest Drive in Eldred Township.
Storms struck at the end of two-day Home Made Days in Susquehanna State Park along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in the city.
It was not know whether festival goers had to delay their fun at the festival or if winds affected the food or craft tents or carts.
Despite all the damage, many saw a rainbow arching over the entire valley. The phenomenon could be seen by people outside businesses on Lycoming Creek Road.