Dave Smull, owner of Bady's Grove & Catering in Bushkill Township, was just about to lock up for the night around 4:30 p.m. Saturday when he heard a loud roaring sound.
Smull walked outside and saw a large piece of metal flying over his roof, 104 Bady Lane. He then ran back inside to take cover as a series of strong thunderstorms carrying wind gusts of up to 50 mph, lightning and half-inch hail Saturday plowed through, eventually ripping off the roof on his pavilion and seafood store areas.
"In 40 years, there's been nothing like this," Smull said.
The storm Saturday evening reached Allentown by 4:25 p.m. and continued on through the rest of the Valley. The north of Northampton and Lehigh counties seemed to experience the most damage -- with Slatington, Walnutport, Bushkill Township and Plainfield Township getting a lot of reports.
Warren County areas, such as Franklin Township, also reported several knocked down trees. Penny-sized hail was seen throughout portions of Allentown.
Wind gusts topping 45 mph were recorded, the weather service said, with one gust near Reading, Pa., reaching 65 mph. But no tornadoes were reported by the National Weather Service.
However, WFMZ-69 News reported the National Weather Service in State College was investigating damage in parts of Lancaster/York counties and in the Pittston Township area of Luzerne County to see if there was a tornado touched down in either of those areas.
Met-Ed by 2 p.m. Sunday had 322 customers without power in Northampton County and another 29 customers without power in Lehigh County. Jersey Central Power & Light had 21 customers without power in Warren County. PPL Electric Utilities was not reporting any outages in Northampton and Lehigh counties.
Strong February thunderstorm leaves a mess in its wake
'It's a war zone'
Crews were dispatched through Saturday evening and well into Sunday, fixing down power lines, clearing knocked down trees and repairing damage. Several roadways had partial closures.
"It's a war zone, no doubt," said Smull, who was awaiting the insurance company to assess damage. Smull was hoping to reopen by Tuesday.
Bushkill Township Police Chief Michael McLouth said police, fire and emergency workers were dispatched most of the evening. There were no reported injuries.
However, police were fielding 20 to 25 calls when firefighters responded to a horse struck by a tree along Creamery Road. The horse ultimately perished, he said.
There also was a woman and toddler stuck in a car when a pole fell in front of it, a tree behind it and wires scattered on the roof, McLouth said.
Upward of 20 trees fell throughout the township during the storm, including some onto houses. "Sections of the township were badly damaged," McLouth said.
A man living in the 1000 block of Jacobsburg Road who declined to give his name was without power for several hours. He said he heard chainsaws going all night from crews clearing the road to make way for the power company.
Plainfield Township was particularly hit hard in the Slate Belt with loads of reported trees down, said Slate Belt Regional Police Chief David Mettin.
"We got the brunt of it too," the chief said, but noted the area was fortunate to not have anyone injured during the storm.
Smull said he knew a farmer who reported his entire Plainfield Township property was ravaged. The township building also had partial roof damage, Mettin said.
Pamela Sroka-Holzmann may be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @pamholzmann. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.
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