The National Weather Service confirmed Thursday that a weak tornado touched down in New Jersey as a severe thunderstorm moved across a portion of the state a day earlier, felling dozens of trees and causing extensive damage.
The EF-0 tornado touched down in a baseball field on the campus of Brookdale Community College in the Lincroft section of Monmouth County's Middletown Township, officials said. A sudden tornado warning had been issued shortly before it hit; the twister was on the ground for about 3 minutes with max wind speeds of 80 mph and traveled a path 1.21 miles long, according to NWS.
The tornado caused no injuries, but tossed a set of metal bleachers adjacent to the baseball field, then crossed over Phalanx Road and into a residential area, where it felled dozens of trees. The tornado continued to move a bit south of due east and passed near the northeast corner of a reservoir, damaging more trees.
According to NWS, the twister then moved into another residential area near Swimming River and Normandy roads, producing a continued path of damaged trees before lifting as it entered the Riverdale West Park. A total of about 70 trees were thought to have been damaged by the wild winds.
No widespread structural damage was reported, though one house -- one to which a family had just moved two days ago -- ended up with a tree through its roof.
Homeowner Ben Harris told the Asbury Park Press he hurried his family into the basement of their home as the storm approached. “When we got to the basement, you heard everything just stop, it just went quiet,” said Harris. “I think it was a tornado because I never heard anything go silent like that.”
At one point it got so dark with clouds blacking out the sky, Brookdale Police Chief Rob Kilmer said that "it looked like it was 3 o'clock in the morning in about a minute."
The confirmed tornado is just the latest for the Garden State this month. Officials confirmed an EF1 twister touched down during Tropical Storm Isaias, which left nearly 2 million people without power in New Jersey for days.