1 Dead as Tornado-Like Storm Rips Through the Region

27,000 NYC households without power; 40,000 in New Jersey

A short but violent tornado-like storm swept through New York City and parts of New Jersey on Thursday evening, uprooting trees and damaging cars and causing at least one fatality, overturned trees, widespread property damage and power outages.

The evening storm walloped Brooklyn and Queens knocking down trees and sending residents scrambling as the skies darkened and 70-mile-per-hour winds howled.  The storm hit just after 5 p.m., when the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Staten Island. Shortly afterward, warnings were issued for Brooklyn and Queens.  Video of what appears to be a funnel cloud was filmed over Perth Amboy.

  • Con Edison is reporting 30,000 households without power in the five boroughs including 25,000 in Queens and 6,000 in Staten Island. As of 7:30 pm, power lines were still on fire in Queens.
  • New York City public school will remain open on Friday
  • 40,000 6,000 New Jersey households were without power.
  • A woman was killed after a tree fell down and crushed her car, which was parked in the shoulder of the roadway on the Grand Central Parkway near Jewel Avenue. The driver, 30-year-old Iline Leuakis of Mechanicsburg Penn., had pulled over to escape the rain.  A passenger, a 60-year-old man, was listed at Booth Memorial hospital in stable condition. 
  • Authorities confirm 6 people including 4 police officers suffered minor injuries in a car accident at W. 207 St and 9th Ave. The accident happened around 9:02pm. Four of the six people injured were taken and treated at nearby hospitals.
  • Long Island Rail Road service has been suspended partially restored from Penn Station to Jamaica and Penn Station and Port Washington. Limited eastbound service was available from Jamaica.  Expect delays through the night and into the Friday morning commute
  • Service for departures and arrivals at LaGuardia, Newark and JFK airports was delayed two to three hours.
  • The National Weather Service has not yet confirmed the massive storm as a tornado yet although many witnesses have reported spotting funnel clouds. And winds of up to 80 miles-per-hour were reported.

Sideways rain, black clouds and fierce howling winds caused major damage to Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and parts of Long Island. Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and Bushwick in Brooklyn, and Flushing and Ridgewood in Queens seemed to be hit particularly hard.

In the Park Slope, witnesses say the streets went pitch black at about 5:30 p.m. Trees started waving around like leaves of grass. Large branches snapped and hit cars, smashing windshields.

A huge tree limb, like 25 feet long, flew right up the street, up the hill and stopped in the middle of the air 50 feet up in this intersection and started spinning," said Steve Carlisle, 54. "It was like a poltergeist."

"Then all the garbage cans went up in the air and this spinning tree hits one of them like it was a bat on a ball. The can was launched way, way over there," he said, pointing at a building about 120 feet away where a metal garbage can lay flattened.

Townsend Davis, 47, stood outside of his home on Sterling Place in Brooklyn. A 40-foot tree that was uprooted from the sidewalk and crushed two cars still had a sign in the soil around its roots that read "Respect the trees."

"Someone up there wasn't listening," Davis said. "I'm just glad it fell that way, as bad as I feel for the owners of that car, because if it fell this way, my house wouldn't be here."

Davis' children and wife were in the home when the storm hit.

"All of a sudden, we saw this dark cloud, and it was moving. I said 'Let's go in!'" said Stephen Wylie, who was working in a backyard on Quincy Street, in Brooklyn.

Within seconds, the front door started lashing back and forth. Trees branches were falling and trees came flying from other yards, Wylie said.

Yet a few thousand brave souls found a way to make it to CitiField for the Mets game despite the weather. Andy Wells of Staten Island took the Ferry to the 1 Train to the R to 75th Street in Queens, then walked towards the ballpark. For an hour. "They shoudn't have played," he said. "But I got friends inside the stadium. They're my ride home."

Mayor Bloomberg surveyed the damage at 111th St. and 52nd Avenue in Corona and said crews would working overnight to clear the streets. But the mayor said he expected schools to remain open on Friday.

“There have been reports of damage to school buildings," Bloomberg said. "We do expect all schools to be open tomorrow, but we’ll just- as the night goes on, we’ll make sure that everything is safe. "

Lindsay Good, Frank Salamone, John Noel, Hasani Gittens and  Tim Minton contributed to this report.

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