May 31st, 1998 Tornado OutbreakDamage survey for May 31st, 1998 across Wayne and Pike counties in Northeast Pennsylvania
The ground damage survey began in Pike county at Promised Land State Park. Heading southward from I84 off exit 7, along SR 390, extremely heavy damage was evident inside the park near the town of Promised Land on both sides of SR 390. There was a sharp gradient in the damage, going from a heavily forested area into an area that had been completely stripped of all trees within 50 feet. On the west side of the road was an area of cabins and trailers that sloped downhill to the west. Past this area, the trees were broken off higher up as the tornado was lowering and moving in from the west and encountering the higher terrain. Many of these trailers and cabins had some siding peeled away, but had more extensive damage from falling trees. East of SR 390, the land was level and the trees were uprooted or twisted off within 6 feet of the ground. About one half mile of land is between SR 390 and the lake shore and every tree was either uprooted or sheared off in a 3/10 mile wide path.
Witnesses were hard to come by in this area. The local fire station was right on the edge of the damage path but none of the volunteers were there at the time. The fire chief claimed to get the first damage report of his fire radio at 730 pm. Most of the trailers and cabins in this area are seasonal and/or weekend homes and were not occupied on Sunday night.
The survey continued around the north side of the lake to access a peninsula in the middle of the lake due east of the town of Promised Land. The damage on this peninsula was the most extensive, with complete destruction of a mature stand of oaks, some with trunk diameters exceeding 2 feet. Most of the trees were not uprooted, but were twisted off at about the 5 foot level. Most of the damage to the cottages was done by these heavy trees falling on the roofs of the cottages. There was some minor wind damage. There was no damage in the immediate area further east including the east shore of the lake.
The damage in this area near Promised Land was estimated to be of F2 intensity based on the size of the trees damaged. The path width was approximately 3/10 of a mile wide and 2 miles in length.
Due to the hilly terrain present across Wayne and Pike counties, this was the only ground survey conducted in the area following the tornado outbreak on May 31, 1998. In the days and weeks that followed, numerous other reports of damage and photographs were received by NWS Binghamton from residents, visitors, and the media. By using the additional information and comparing it to radar images from corresponding times, it was possible to confirm several additional tornado damage paths across Wayne and Pike counties.
A damage path near Salem and Dryer townships in southern Wayne county was given an intensity of F0. Another path went through the Blue Heron Lake area and was rated as an F3 while yet another path went through the Blooming Grove area and was given a rating of F2. These tornadoes were associated with a pair of supercell thunderstorms which moved through southern Wayne and Pike counties between roughly 800 PM and 845 PM on May 31, 1998. Damage in the Lake Wallenpaupack area during this time was determined to be caused by straight line winds with only isolated tree and limb damage evident.
National Weather Service
Binghamton Weather Forecast Office
32 Dawes Drive
Johnson City, NY 13790
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