Tornado, 1 of 3, Caused ‘Catastrophic' Damage to Berks County School

An elementary school principal was trapped after a tornado barreled through a Berks County, Pennsylvania town causing "catastrophic" damage to the school, the National Weather Service said.

The category EF-1 tornado touched down near Stone Road in Tilden Township near Reading with maximum winds of 105 mph Thursday evening, forecasters said. The twister snapped trees and ripped the roof clear off the Blue Mountain Elementary School.

Principal Rachel Wardecke was inside the school when the tornado hit. She was trapped under debris, but able to escape on her own without injury.

"I remember a bang and then just being on the floor and hearing noise and things on top of me," she said. "Once it was quiet, I kinda found my way up and over what was left of a wall and down the hallway."

Officials reported the school building to be a total loss. After hitting the school, the tornado continued northeasterly into a campground and then lifted into the sky, the meteorologists said.

Strong storms that formed in Central Pennsylvania Thursday spawned the tornado and two others further west.

Forecasters said a category EF-1 tornado touched down Thursday near Montoursville and an EF-0 tornado touched down in Selinsgrove, both in central Pennsylvania.

An EF-0 tornado has winds of 65-85 mph. An EF-1 tornado has winds of 86-110 mph.

Forecasters said the tornado near Montoursville snapped and uprooted trees and caused damage to outbuildings.

They said the Selinsgrove twister tracked along a creek and caused damage to trees and crops before lifting when it reached the Susquehanna River.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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