A quick-moving thunderstorm barrelled across the Valley on Friday morning, leaving a path of destruction, uprooting trees and destroying a decades-old drive-in movie screen.
While the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch for parts of Union County that expired by 9:15 a.m., most of the damage was done in Point Township and in Montour County.
“It was really an isolated incident,” AccuWeather meteorologist Dave Houk said. “It looks like a distinct cell, well in advance of the rest of the front, came through quickly.”
One of the original screens at the Point Drive-In was blown apart, leaving a gaping hole amid huge pine trees surrounding the drive-in while scattering splinters of the 50-foot by 65-foot movie screen between the trees and nearby Route 11.
Drive-in owner David Renn said it’s the second time a strong storm has damaged that particular screen. He said the screen — which is about 65 years old — was previously damaged about 30 years ago when a similar storm blew down two-thirds of the screen.
“It definitely screwed up my day,” Renn said Friday afternoon. “We got a phone call about it and we went to see it. There’s nothing left, it just took the whole thing down.”
A GoFundMe page (https://gf.me/u/ynp4qj) has been set up to raise money to rebuild the screen. Renn said he expects it to cost between $75,000 and $100,000 to replace. More than $1,800 was raised as of 11:30 p.m. Friday.
Renn said after clearing the debris, he expects the theatre to be open this evening for its regular run of classic movies.
Danville hit hard
Danville and Mahoning Township also took a big hit. Several traffic lights were out for hours and fire police had to direct traffic manually through the busy intersection at Route 11 and Railroad Street. Bloom Road was also closed to allow crews to clean up large trees that were felled just east of the entrance to Geisinger.
There was localized flooding in and around Danville’s downtown, including along Mill Street and even at Geisinger.
Heavy rains and runoff flooded the entrance to Geisinger’s emergency room. Geisinger spokesman Joe Stender said two of the entrances to the ER were impacted, but “critical operations were not affected,” he said. “It took about 30 minutes to clean up after the storm and there is no permanent damage.”
The Danville SPCA was also damaged by high winds. A portion of the roof on the outdoor kennels was partially torn off according to the organization’s Facebook page. Trees were also knocked down on the property, along with damage to sheds and barns. No animals were harmed, officials said on social media.
Houk said Friday’s storm and weather pattern are pretty typical.
“Any time you are dealing with thunderstorms, you can get a pretty powerful system,” he said. “When you have a thunderstorm racing like that, it can get concentrated on the lead edge of the storm and produce strong, damaging winds.”
The rain that followed the quick hit thunderstorm dumped 1.5 inches at Penn Valley Airport, Houk said. Friday’s total pushed August rainfall at the airport to 2.98 inches after 2.96 inches of rain hit the airport throughout the entire month of July.
The National Weather Service did issue a Flash Flood Watch that was scheduled to expire at 2 a.m. today, but lifted the watch Friday night..