NWS: 2 Tornadoes Touched Down In NYC

Clean-Up Progresses, Power Crews Work Round The Clock

NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880/1010 WINS/AP) — The sudden blast of Mother Nature’s fury on Thursday lasted just minutes, but left a path of destruction across the tri-state area.

The National Weather Service confirmed Friday that two tornadoes and a microburst struck the New York City area on Thursday evening.

The weaker of the two, with gusts up to 80 miles per hour, was in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The other tornado touched down about two miles south of Flushing, Queens, north of Bayside with winds of 100 miles per hour.

But most of the damage in Queens was caused by a macroburst. It packed winds of 125 mph, hitting Middle Village and Forest Hills.

The NWS said the macroburst was a mile wide.

The city estimates more than 1,000 trees were destroyed and dozens of buildings damaged. The fury of wind and rain that pummeled the area was New York City’s ninth and tenth tornado since 1950, the National Weather Service said Friday night.

Kyle Struckmann, a meteorologist with the agency, said it was amazing that only one person died.

“It’s practically a miracle considering the population that was affected by this,” he said.

On Friday, Gov. David Paterson asked Federal Emergency Management Agency to send crews to assess the extent of the damage.

Whipping winds snapped trees like twigs, toppling them onto cars, homes, power lines, and anything else in the way.

Thursday’s fast-moving storm tore through Queens, where three neighborhoods seemed to have been hit particularly hard – Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, and Kew Gardens Hills.

Trees were toppled onto cars and homes, and workers were assessing the damage and clean-up on Friday.


Mariann De Rosa said she called 311 five months ago to warn about two unsteady trees, both of which came down Thursday night.

“No one ever came…nothing,” De Rosa said.

In Kew Gardens Hills, one woman was just heading out to her car before a tree came crashing down on top of it.

“As soon as I opened the door, I saw a huge tree falling,” Eleanor Levy said. “I had no idea it smashed my car. My car is completely totaled. I was shocked.”

In Queens, not even a church was spared from the storm’s wrath.

It seems everywhere residents turn in Queens, from Bayside to Middle Village, there are crushed cars, downed power lines and toppled trees.

1010 WINS Reporter Al Jones with a politician who’s asking for state help
1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera with friends of a woman killed in the storm
1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports from Flushing
WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall: Animals Need Special Care in Storms
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports from Staten Island
1010 WINS’ John Montone reports from Park Slope
WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane on damage in Park Slope, Brooklyn
WCBS 880’s Sean Adams on damage in Tottenville, Staten Island
1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports from Jamaica Station
WCBS 880’s Craig Allen with Weather To Go
WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola on damage in Flushing, Queens
WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell on damage in Auburndale, Queens

SEE: More Photos of the Storm
WATCH: Video coverage of the storm

Residents who were in the storm’s path, though, were counting their blessings on Friday, especially the members of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Flushing. Their church steeple is now just a pile of wood.

“I walked up from the other side of the street and it was an empty feeling, like a loss, like somebody had died or something,” church caretaker Blaise Scelsi said.

The landmark church, and it’s 50-foot spire, had majestically towered over Main Street since 1854. Powerful winds plucked the steeple right off it’s foundation on Thursday, smashing it onto the street below.

“The wind changed and all of sudden, it hit the church and I heard a bang,” Christos said. “I didn’t know what it was because everything was flying around…To me, it looked like a twister.”

The storm hit in the middle of rush hour, when dozens of people would normally be standing right outside the church at a bus stop – right where the spire toppled into a pile a debris.

The rain had come down so heavy that everyone ran for shelter, and no one was on the street to get hurt.

“My first reaction was typical of our members,” Pastor Shawn Duncan said. “We were giving thanks no one was injured.”


The destruction was simply unbelievable to longtime Middle Village residents like Dawn Suzel.

“It was scary – we really didn’t have any warning,” Suzel said. “We didn’t hear anything on the radio, and all of a sudden it was just intense winds. You felt like you were in the ‘Wizard of Oz.’”

“It got to a point you couldn’t even see anything,” Alessandro Silaco said. “There was just so much going on, you didn’t know what to look at; [it was like] something out of a movie.”

A huge tree was seemingly effortlessly uprooted from the ground. It pulled down power lines and smashed a car right outside Suzel’s home.

“We’re probably not going to have power for days,” she said. “Thank God no one was hurt, that’s the most important thing.”

In Park Slope, Brooklyn, residents were still trying to deal with post-storm clean-up on Friday.

Sandy Noble spent the day thanking her neighbors, particularly those at Danny’s Tire Shop, for helping her clean up after a mighty hardwood tree came crashing through her kitchen skylight and into her second-floor bedroom window. She wasn’t home at the time, but her neighbors were there for her.


“I feel like they are family – Danny’s tire shop, they were amazing,” Noble said. “They came back with a chainsaw, with plastic, with tape. They cleaned up the floor, they made it possible that I could stay in my bedroom last night.”

“We’re just friends and neighbors. We have the business around the corner,” Danny Moran, who owns that tire shop, said. “The minute she approached and said she needed help, I happen to have a chainsaw, and me and my guys came over and helped her out.”

Throughout Park Slope, neighbors were pitching in and helping out in the aftermath.

On 13th Street, everyone came together for Ronnie Gluck, who lives in the oldest house on the block. The gorgeous Victorian home was built in 1863.

Gluck said neighbors had complained to the city six months ago that the sycamore tree out front looked weak and sickly, but nothing was done. On Friday, the tree was precariously balancing on Gluck’s home, and his neighbor’s car.

“My insurance company isn’t coming until Monday, because they don’t work on Saturday and Sunday, and part of the tree is on my neighbor’s car,” Gluck said.

The extent of the damage is staggering in Staten Island.

Fierce winds peeled the roof off of an auto shop, exposing the cars inside – and crushing the ones in the parking lot with debris.

The New Brighton section is one of the neighborhoods especially hard-hit by the bout of nasty weather, with tree limbs on cars and trees coming down altogether.

“It got very quiet, and then it sounded like a train coming up the street,” Margaret Ann Wilkinson said.

Charisa Mangin’s home lost power during the harsh winds and rain.

“I think it was a tornado, because I came out on my porch, and I saw the swirling,” Mangin said. “It was like a hint of green – it was not dark out anymore.”

One maple tree was partially uprooted, and falling limbs hit a house nearby while the owner was inside.

“You heard like a ‘whoosh,’ like a sandstorm, ‘boom,’” Mangin said. “That’s when the thing fell on top of the roof.”

The storm seemed to hit a couple of blocks in Staten Island, doing significant damage and downing trees and power lines, before moving on.

“We got hit real quick, suddenly,” Chris Peterson said. “It was just a downpour, and all you heard was the wind gusting through.”

The focus now has turned to clean-up and restoring power to residents in neighborhoods where power lines were affected. Crews are out in force across the tri-state to repair damage and clean up downed trees and branches.



One Comment

  1. love_it_here says:

    you folks don’t know what weather is we live on the head lands of the pacific ocean a place called Charleston Oregon a fishing village ( about 300 people ) during the winter we will see winds of 70 mph couple times a month or more one time we got a pacific blast that at last report was 140 mph the reason it was the last report was the weather tower at north bend took off and landed in the bay RAIN? we can get 8 to 10 inches in an hour in the last 24 hr we have had 4 1/2 inches of rain and the rain hasn’t started yet grandson and I rode bikes to the store about a mile in the rain at 73 degrees loved it

  2. TeacherMD says:

    The Auburndale area of Flushing looks terrible! Downed power lines and uprooted trees and power poles cover the area.

  3. Ron D'Antonio says:

    The on air announcers keep saying macroburst. The correct term is MICROBURST

  4. Larry Klein says:

    Two miles south of Flushing is not Bayside! Bayside is east of Flushing.

  5. Russel says:

    Woodhaven Blvd by St Johns Cemetary was a real disaster area. It doesn’t make the news because no one could get near it yesterday. Surprised that no one on the road was killed when it happend. Middle Village got rocked by 125 MPH winds, way stronger than anywhere else, and it showed. And then all the traffic flowed through the neigborhood when all the surrounding roads were closed. It absorbed all the LIE, Woodhaven Blvd, and Interboro traffic in both directions. It was horrible until 3:00 AM

  6. KMarshall says:

    Wow. So it really was a tornado, so glad their wasn’t a huge amount of casualties…

  7. Johnny says:

    It’s my guess the tree huggers living there protested the attempt to remove potentially dangerous trees in favor of keeping their neighborhood “green”.

  8. dennis says:

    NYc policy on trees is also the cuase of the havoc we seen yesterday. I have tried time and again to get two trees by my house in Queens pruned because it’s hitting the roof of my house. The City response – we have a seven year pruning program. What a joke! Let’s face it, a lot of these trees do not belong on City sidewalks. Way too big. Of course, our mayor wants to plant a million more trees. Where do you propose to put them?

    1. nghe says:

      Several of those million trees have been put on the green in the village in Queeens where I live. There are places to put them.

  9. Nick says:

    Idiots cut their tree roots perfectly square to fit into the cement sidewalk. Than are “surprised” when it all topples. (Take a look at the pictures of the trees.)


  10. rugbyball says:

    Middle Village, Queens, near Juniper Valley Park, was hit bad as well. Roads impassable with down trees and debris. Helicopters flying over all day today!

  11. Stephen Liebman says:

    The Hillcrest area of Queens (in the 180s north of Union Turnpike) was very hard hit with a lot of trees down and electricity out. Traffic was awful on Thursday night.
    This area should be checked out for the hurricane.

  12. Yo says:

    This was for all the non believers who thought this cannot happen in NYC.

  13. RR says:

    Don’t forget Staten Island!!!! We were hit hard!!!!! It’s a flipping mess in New Brighton.

    1. Tom says:

      Yes! There were multiple tornado sitings inm Staten Island.

      There also is footage on YouTube of the tornado in Brooklyn.

Comments are closed.

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