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Emergency responders kept busy as front passes

A Wendy's employee sweeps up some of the sign on New Castle Street after the upper section came down Saturday afternoon, when a line of storms containing strong wind gusts battered the county. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle 4/1/23

The county 911 dispatch center and first responders all over Butler County were hopping Saturday afternoon, as a line of storms and wind gusts passed through.

Chris Leonardi, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, said a cold front joined by a line of storms that produced dangerous wind gusts swept through the entire county between 1:30 and 2 p.m.

Wind gusts at the Pittsburgh-Butler Regional Airport clocked in at 33 mph, but Leonardi said higher wind speeds occurred throughout the county.

He said trees were reported down in Cranberry Township, Seven Fields, Connoquenessing Township, Harmony, Meridian Road in Butler Township, Bonniebrook Road in Summit Township and Three Degree Road in Penn Township.

A large tree that fell on a house on Whitestown Road was reported as well.

Leonardi said strong gusts would continue until about 5 or 6 p.m., when calmer conditions move in.

The outage map on the West Penn Power website showed Butler County among the hardest hit by the storms, as 20,529 customers were without power throughout the county.

That equals more than 20% of West Penn Power customers.

John McFadden, who owns Drop Dead Deals in Harrisville with his wife, Andrea, said strong gusts along with rain broke out the window in the couple’s Main Street shop.

“All of a sudden, the wind picked up and everything was blowing down the street,” he said.

McFadden said the sign alerting motorists where to turn onto Route 58 was completely laid down by the winds, a bench was toppled on Main Street at the U.S. Post Office, and three trees that he knows of came down in the immediate area of Harrisville.

“I think it was a microburst or something,” McFadden said.

He said customers were in the store when the window burst, and one man used a flashlight to shop for deals after the power went out.

“There was stuff blowing down the street,” McFadden said. “I don’t know where it came from.”

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