County under tornado watch

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County offices close at noon today

By Kayla Vaughn

County offices closed at noon Friday, following a tornado watch issued in Lancaster County, with 70-mile per hour winds and quarter-sized hail expected.

Severe weather alerts were issued Friday morning by the National Weather Service (NWS) for 18 counties across the state, including Lancaster. The tornado watch is in effect until 6 p.m. Friday, but the weather is expected to take a turn for the worse about 2 p.m.

Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis said all convenience sites would be closing early Friday, along with the government offices, but the sites should be open again Saturday.

“It’s going to be an ugly afternoon in Lancaster County,” Willis said. “Emergency services are ramped up, preparing for the storm. If you don’t have to be out in it, for heaven’s sake, don’t.”

Darren Player, director of Lancaster County Fire Rescue and Emergency Management, said Duke Energy expects power outages in the county and although the county government offices are closing, emergency services will still operate as normal.

High winds and heavy rains are expected, so people are asked to be aware of possible flash flooding in poor drainage areas, Player said.

If a tornado watch is issued, this simply means to be prepared in case of a tornado.

A tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted on weather radar and is expected to hit soon. In this case, the public is urged to find refuge in the safest location possible.

Safe locations, according to the NWS, include an interior room or basement, storm shelter or FEMA safe room. Anyone in mobile or manufactured homes should find shelter elsewhere. Vehicles and under highway overpasses are not safe places to ride out a tornado.

For more information and weather updates, visit www.weather.gov.


Follow Kayla Vaughn on Twitter @kaybvaughn or contact her at (803) 416-8416.