Storms, Lightning Hammer Tri-State, Spark Fires

The storm brought thousands of lightning strikes

Powerful thunderstorms rolled through the New York metro area Monday and brought thousands of lightning strikes that zapped several structures, in some cases igniting fires.

A fire broke out at a retirement condo building in Manalapan, N.J., after lightning struck there. A church in Staten Island and a home in Westport, Conn. were also believed to be hit, and several people were taken to the hospital after a lightning strike at a Connecticut golf course, officials said.

There were numerous other reports of strikes after the storm rumbled through during the morning rush.

At the New Jersey condo, residents said there was a loud pop before they were urged to evacuate.

"We heard a crack," said Gracie Domenico. Shortly after that, Domenico's neighbor, Sarah Semaya, knocked on her door to tell her to get out.

"It was so strange and so fast," said Semaya.

Much of the building's upper floor was lost in the fire.

Forecasters say the amount of lightning seen Monday indicates a very strong storm with a powerful updraft. In Dutchess County, dozens of trees were snapped and debris was tossed so forcefully that weather officials are investigating whether a tornado touched down in that area of Dover.

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Long Island, Westchester, most of New Jersey and Connecticut until 2 p.m.

Forecasters urged residents to take adequate precautions amid the lightning and heavy rain. Rainfall rates of 2 to 3 inches an hour are possible with this storm, which could cause minor flooding of poor drainage areas and ponding in some places.

The rain is expected to move out around noon and the evening commute should be dry, meteorologists said.

Temperatures are supposed to linger in the muggy mid- to high-70s, but the weather should dry out by the afternoon as a cold front moves through.

Overnight temperatures are only expected to reach the breezy high 50s, bringing a refreshing coolness to the tri-state after last week's heat wave.

On Tuesday, the weather is expected to be breezy and pleasant with a slight chance of showers. Meteorologists predict temperatures in the 80s on Wednesday and Thursday with a mix of sun and clouds.

Raphael Miranda contributed to this story

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