Thunder and Lightning Shake and Rattle City

It was a light show that also packed a punch.

A frightening electrical storm moved through the city last night, quickly dumping buckets of rain and causing a fair amount of damage with wind and lightning.

Trees were down on Riverside Drive, a taxi was hit by a tree at 86th street and Central Park West and customers throughout the city went without electricity for sporadic periods, according to officials.   In Oak Point, the Bronx, the storm appeared to be responsible for a partial building collapse.

This morning at Central Park, crews were cleaning up debris and tree branches that had been strewn everywhere.

Betsy Wingfield, who lives near the park said that for 10 to 15 seconds Tuesday night, "it was the strongest wind I ever felt."

Trees young and old were tossed like toothpicks in the wind.

"I'm walking around here in a daze," said Marvin Koenigsberg, who lives near the park. "I can't believe it. Do you recognize this place?

There is extensive damage near the park's tennis courts at West 96th Street, and some trees were knocked down to the ground, exposing their roots.

The National Weather Service estimates that wind gusts in that area were as high as 80 mph Tuesday night.

"Central Park has been devastated," parks commissioner Adrian Benepe told the Times. "It created more damage then I've seen in 30 years of working in the parks."

The storm swept in after two sweltering days of temperatures above 90 degrees.

According to the National Weather Service, there is a chance of another shower and thunderstorm Wednesday afternoon and into the evening.

A heat advisory remains in effect, with high temperatures in the lower 90s expected.

Throughout the city no serious injuries were reported, but there were a lot of frazzled nerves -- one woman at Central Park said "it sounded like the end of the world."


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