Last updated: July 08. 2014 11:23PM - 3703 Views
By James O’Malley jomalley@civitasmedia.com

A pickup truck stops after running into downed wires on Route 309 in the Back Mountain.
A pickup truck stops after running into downed wires on Route 309 in the Back Mountain.
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A severe storm that swept through Northeastern Pennsylvania early Tuesday evening brought heavy rain and strong winds, causing property damage across the region.

Utility companies UGI and PPL reported on their websites that more than 18,000 customers were without electricity in Luzerne and Wyoming counties at some point, with bulk of Luzerne County’s outages occurring in the Back Mountain area from the Sweet Valley area through Dallas and Dallas Township.

The heavy weather blew in just after 6 p.m., striking most heavily between 7 and 8.

Steve Bekanich, director of Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency, said his team had gathered in the agency’s office, but by 8:30 p.m. had not received any requests for assistance from municipalities. However, he said they were monitoring the situation closely.

“We’re just trying to get an idea of what kind of damage is out in the county,” he said.

Occasionally frantic reports broadcast across emergency services scanners as workers struggled to keep up with the flood of calls related to the storm. A heavy concentration of calls poured from the Back Mountain area.

Emergency crews and personnel responded to reports of fallen trees landing on homes, cars and power lines, but wires and debris in the streets hindered the progress of emergency workers.

A situation involving a fallen tree that uprooted a gas line on Machell Avenue in Dallas escalated to a request for police assistance.

Trees and electrical wires reportedly also fell in Wilkes-Barre on both South Main Street and Riverside Drive, and for a time, Sherman Hills apartments was said to be running on emergency power, leaving elevators nonoperational.

Local television stations interrupted their scheduled programming for more than an hour to broadcast tornado warnings, radar pictures and weather updates.

Calls to the National Weather Service in Binghamton, New York, for information on the kinds of winds the area experienced went unanswered as of press time Tuesday night.

Accross the state, thousands were reported without power as a line of severe thunderstorms raced across the state, leaving reports of damage and one possible tornado.

The state’s large electrical utilities reported scattered outages in western and central Pennsylvania on Tuesday, as a cold front moved in over the late afternoon and early evening.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported several tornado sightings were reported to emergency dispatchers in northwestern Mercer County.

There also were reports of damaged roofs and downed trees in Mercer and Armstrong counties.

A National Weather Service meteorologist tells the Post-Gazette winds of more than 40 miles per hour were recorded in the Pittsburgh area.

There were power outages in the Williamsport and Sunbury areas, around Carlisle and in the Philadelphia suburbs of Bucks County.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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