Wave of Storms in State Appears to Be Precursor

Article excerpt

Severe weather might keep Chuck Mills busy during the next few months.

"We are expecting a more brisk-than-usual summer," said Mills, 40, a ham radio operator who serves as emergency coordinator for the Amateur Radio Emergency Service in Westmoreland County.

Radio service members serve as weather watchers for the National Weather Service and were first to report the tornado that tore through the Fort Allen section of Hempfield on March 24, he said.

The first half of May could have the kind of patterns that produce severe weather, and that could continue into June, said Tom Kines, an Accuweather meteorologist in State College.

"The next six to eight weeks, the potential for severe weather will be there," he said.

Severe storms hit Central Pennsylvania last week and pounded Westmoreland County in March. The National Weather Service said three tornadoes touched down in the state's midsection on Thursday. March's storms caused $4.5 million in damage, according to a preliminary estimate.

In the South last week, the devastation was much more severe. Tornadoes and storms killed more than 300 people.

"Every spring, severe weather seems to be picking up," said Mills, a computer network engineer, volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician who lives near Harrison City.

Pennsylvania's storm season usually peaks in late May to early June. Conditions this year are being complicated by a La Nina, meteorologists said.

"It's delayed the onset of seasons with above-normal rain," said Lee Hendricks, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. …