2 tornadoes touch down in NYC as thunderstorms hit region
Published Saturday, September 8, 2012 3:53PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 8, 2012 10:30PM EDT
Two rare tornadoes hit the outskirts of New York City Saturday afternoon, sending normally unflappable New Yorkers running for cover amid howling winds and flying debris.
More than 1,100 customers were without power Saturday night after high winds ripped through first a seaside neighbourhood in Queens and then Brooklyn, damaging buildings, downing trees and scattering debris across lawns and roadways.
Officials said no serious injuries were reported.
The first twister appeared late Saturday morning gathering water, sand and then pieces of structures before it plowed through the Breezy Point area on Queens’ Rockaway peninsula.
Seven minutes later, a second tornado hit the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, carrying winds of 177 kilometres per hour, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.
Several homes were damaged.
A tornado warning had been issued for both regions around 10:40 a.m. local time, about 20 minutes before the first tornado struck.
"I was showing videos of tornadoes to my 4-year-old on my phone, and two minutes later, it hit," Breezy Point resident Peter Maloney told The Associated Press. "Just like they always say, it sounded like a train."
The twister left shattered windows in its wake, as well as extensive damage at the Breezy Point Surf Club, where a barbecue and propane tank were carried to a nearby softball field.
“It picked up picnic benches. It picked up Dumpsters," said the club's general manager, Thomas Sullivan.
The tornadoes were part of a storm system that blanketed the mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Saturday, pummelling some areas with hail, heavy rainfall and high winds. Also on Saturday, high winds tore roofs off buildings in Buffalo. More homes were left without power upstate as the storm moved north.
The storm wreaked havoc on the schedule at the U.S. Open tennis tournament Saturday afternoon. After Andy Murray beat Tomas Berdych to reach the men’s final, the second semi-final between David Ferrer and Novak Djokovic was suspended in the first set. The women’s final, originally scheduled for Saturday night, will be played on Sunday.
Tornadoes are a rare occurrence in New York, but a few have hit the region in recent years. A small tornado blew through Long Island in August; two tornadoes hit Brooklyn and Queens in September 2010, while another hit the Bronx later that year; and in 2007, a twister damaged homes in Brooklyn and Staten Island.
With files from The Associated Press