More widespread thunderstorms slammed the tri-state area Wednesday with destructive winds, blinding downpours and potentially large hail, the latest severe weather threat for a region that has been intermittently inundated by flash floods and tornado warnings the last week and a half.
Thunder started booming in Brooklyn, followed by punishing rain and rapidly successive bolts of lightning, shortly before 1 p.m., as storms began to envelop much of the New York City area. Quarter-sized hail was reported in New Jersey's Ocean County, where a severe thunderstorm warning was issued at the same time.
That initial round of storms, though, was mostly short-lived. A few more popped up later in the afternoon, but all severe thunderstorm warnings for the area warnings expired by 4:30 p.m. The severe thunderstorm watch for NYC and the surrounding area was canceled before 7 p.m.
The MTA banned empty tractor- and tandem trailers from its bridges ahead of the worst of the storms later in the day because of anticipated high winds.
Any storms will also bring much-needed relief from the disastrous air quality caused by smoke from Canadian wildfires, which so polluted the region's air that New York City reported the worst conditions in 20 years.
The Air Quality Index, or AQI, for New York City hit 170 early Wednesday morning, the worst reading since May 2001. But by 7 a.m. it had improved considerably, with more expected as the storms hit.
While not as hot as Tuesday, Wednesday will still be plenty warm and humid, featuring temperatures in the mid-80s before storms roll in.
The cold front will steer drier air into the region, which will bring some much-needed relief from the humidity through the end of the workweek.
After the front passes in the evening, both the hazy skies and clouds will clear up overnight. That leads to picture-perfect beach days from Thursday through Saturday, with temperatures in the low to mid-80s and plenty of sun.
Those days will bring marked relief for a region that has been consistently slammed by intense weather in recent weeks. Parts of New Jersey are still recovering from a wild bout of weekend weather that saw 2 inches of rain fall in 2 hours in Newark and a spattering of tornado warnings issued across the tri-state area.
The chance for thunderstorms could return Sunday, though the day isn't expected to be a washout at this point. Humidity makes a comeback Monday as actual high temperatures soar back near 90 and is expected to linger through the week.
Track any approaching storms using our interactive radar below.