Tornado confirmed in Wilkes-Barre storm, National Weather Service says

Strong storms pounded a shopping plaza in Luzerne County Pennsylvania on Wednesday

Strong storms pounded a shopping plaza in Luzerne County Pennsylvania on Wednesday

Local media outlets described the scene in Wilkes-Barre as a "war zone", saying numerous restaurants and stores on Mundy Street, in the township's business district, were "completely gutted", with water raining down from pipes in the ceilings. Dave Skutnik, the Regional Director of Communications for the Red Cross of Eastern Pennsylvania said that fortunately, there have been no fatalities, but a "few minor injuries" have been reported so far. The weather service estimated the tornado had a maximum wind speed of 130 miles per hour and said that its damage was consistent with an EF-2 tornado, the third-lowest intensity on the EF scale.

However, the NWS says the strongest tornado to hit Wayne County since 1950 was on May 12, 1956.

As the sun rose -Thursday--Mundy Street was littered with overturned vehicles. bent utility poles. and debris scattered around the road.

The storm struck a shopping plaza in Wilkes-Barre Township Wednesday night.

And just across the street- near the Wyoming Valley Mall-- most businesses there dodged a major catastrophe.

Staff and patrons huddled in a kitchen for over an hour until they were allowed to escape to the Sonic Drive-in restaurant at the other end of the Wyoming Valley Mall parking lot.

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"The doors were busting open".

The storm knocked out power to at least 7,200 people.

All the stores in the Panera Bread strip mall appeared to have lost their roofs, and Kurlancheek Home Furnishings and U-Haul also suffered extensive roof damage. And everyone made it home safely.

The weather service said two storm survey teams on Thursday will asses the "considerable storm damage" in the Wilkes-Barre area and in Bradford County around Franklindale.

"We will be there all day", Goldsworthy said. "Our system is holding and safe at this point".

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