BENSALEM TWP., Pa. - The National Weather Service office in Mount Holly has finished surveying the damage from the July 29 tornado outbreak, confirming that nine tornadoes touched down across the Delaware and Lehigh valleys.
Five tornadoes tore a path of destruction through southeastern Pennsylvania, while the other four twisters ripped through parts of central and southern New Jersey.
The strongest tornado tracked from Somerton to Trevose to Bensalem in Pennsylvania and was rated EF-3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with peak winds estimated at 140 mph. This was the first F/EF-3 tornado in Pennsylvania since July 17, 2004, in Lebanon County. Some previous F/EF-3 tornadoes in our region include Limerick, Pennsylvania (Montgomery County) in July 1994 and Lyons, Pennsylvania (Berks County) in May 1998.
The NWS said the most significant damage from this EF-3 twister occurred at Faulkner Buick-GMC dealership on Street Road in Bensalem, where most of the roofing material was blown off, all windows and doors were blown out and exterior walls exhibited fracturing due to stress from the wind.
You can find all the details about these nine tornadoes here.
There were also two additional tornadoes confirmed outside the Mount Holly weather service office's County Warning Area, bringing the total count for July 29 up to 11 twisters.
The NWS office in State College, Pennsylvania, found evidence of an EF-0 tornado in the Lebanon County borough of Myerstown, Pennsylvania, located between Harrisburg and Reading.
Another EF-0 twister touched down in Verona, New Jersey, some 10 miles northwest of Newark in Essex County, according to the NWS office in New York City.
When considering this entire region from southeastern Pennsylvania into all of New Jersey, 11 confirmed tornadoes is the most ever recorded in a single outbreak dating to 1950.
Anthony Masiello, a meteorologist based in Burlington, New Jersey, noted on Twitter that the previous record for this region as a whole was 10 tornadoes from Nov. 16, 1989, citing data from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center and National Centers for Environmental Information.
However, there is an important caveat to consider when analyzing records of past tornadoes.
"Tornado datasets are poor the further back in time you go," Masiello tweeted. "It's possible this wasn't the greatest (outbreak) by numbers. We'll never know how many EF-0 tornadoes were missed."
But based on all available data, the July 29 tornado outbreak had more confirmed tornadoes than any other outbreak on record since 1950 for the region encompassing southeastern Pennsylvania and all of New Jersey.
It's possible that additional twisters could be confirmed as the NWS continues to investigate this outbreak in the weeks ahead, but for now, the July 29 tornado count sits at 11.
New Jersey averages two tornadoes per year, according to the NWS. The much larger state of Pennsylvania averages 16 twisters per year, while Delaware (the nation's second-smallest state by area) averages just one.
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