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Northeast Storms 2012: Destructive July Weather Threatens New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio

07/26/2012 06:02 pm ET | Updated Jul 27, 2012

Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and much of the Northeast braced for severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes on Thursday.

The National Weather Service warned that multiple states were threatened by destructive weather through the evening.

New Yorkers prepared for a derecho that experts warned could possibly hit the region. The meteorological phenomenon is described by the Storm Prediction Center as a "widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms ... By definition, if the wind damage swath extends more than 240 miles and includes wind gusts of at least 58 mph then the event may be classified as a derecho."

Elmira, New York, saw a possible tornado touch down, as a storm reportedly damaged a nearby mall and country club.

In Ohio, storms swept across the state, with reports of hail and trees downed, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The Associated Press reported that the storm shut down rides at the annual State Fair, with visitors encouraged to take shelter. The news organization adds that as of late afternoon, at least 12,000 customers have lost power to the storms.

Local Pennsylvania officials reported possible tornado sightings near Brookville and Barnett, with the National Weather Service issuing tornado warnings for specific regions of the state. An alert issued at 4pm EDT read: "SEEK SHELTER NOW INSIDE A STURDY STRUCTURE AND STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS!" The warning asked residents to report hail and damage to the National Weather Service by calling toll free: 1-877-633-6772.

The National Weather Service offers this advice for surviving a tornado:

THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE DURING A TORNADO IS IN A BASEMENT. GET UNDER A WORKBENCH OR OTHER PIECE OF STURDY FURNITURE. IF NO BASEMENT IS AVAILABLE...SEEK SHELTER ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF THE BUILDING IN AN INTERIOR HALLWAY OR ROOM SUCH AS A CLOSET. USE BLANKETS OR PILLOWS TO COVER YOUR BODY AND ALWAYS STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS. IF IN MOBILE HOMES OR VEHICLES...EVACUATE THEM AND GET INSIDE A SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER. IF NO SHELTER IS AVAILABLE...LIE FLAT IN THE NEAREST DITCH OR OTHER LOW SPOT AND COVER YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR HANDS.

This isn't the first case of extreme weather to sweep the U.S. this season. Heat waves and severe drought have plagued regions of the country, leading many to connect potential dots between some weather patterns and climate change.

Visit the National Weather Service website for updates on the most recent storms threatening your area.

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