NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS/WCBS 880) — A brief but severe storm swept through New York City Thursday, uprooting trees and damaging cars.
The storm was also deadly. CBS 2 confirmed the first fatality of the severe weather in Queens as 30-year-old Iline Leuakis, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., was killed when a tree fell on her car as it was parked on the Grand Central Parkway.READ MORE: NYC Announces First-In-The-Nation Vaccine Mandate For Private Companies
The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings around 5:30 p.m. for Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn. Those warnings expired around 6 p.m., but New Yorkers were left dealing with the after effects.
The storm also caused major transportation issues around the city.
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Thousands of people were also without power Thursday night. In the city, Con-Ed reported more than 4,500 outages on Staten Island and 27,000 in Queens.
On Long Island, LIPA reported 12,000 outages — mostly in North Hempstead (more than 7,000) and in Oyster Bay (more than 4,500).
It’s still unclear whether the storm was indeed a tornado, but Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Bruno said the the National Weather Service will make that determination Friday.
“We certainly had tornadic activity in Staten Island and Queens,” Bruno said.
The storms winds clocked in at a powerful 122 mph at a lighthouse in nearby Bayonne, N.J.
“It was just past 5:30, and I was in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and I looked out of the window and I thought I was imagining things but I saw a long, thin funnel cloud and just within a matter of minutes everything just exploded,” said one listener, who called into the WCBS Talk Back line.
You can also tell WCBS 880 your storm story by calling 877-987-WCBS
Jeffrey Greenburg said he was driving on the Grand Central Parkway near Jewel Avenue when he witnessed the powerful winds.READ MORE: Police: Man Brandishing Wooden Daggers Threatens To Kill Woman On Subway
“I seen the tree flying right in front of my car. It went right on by like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz,” Greenburg said. “Before you know it, like half the trees were all over the road.”
Mayor Bloomberg said New Yorkers should “exercise caution” Friday morning.
“In the street there might be some branches still around,” Bloomberg said. “We’ll try to clean up as much as we can overnight.”
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz described “significant damage” including scaffolding flying from buildings, cars destroyed and streets closed on 4th Avenue to WCBS 880 earlier Thursday evening.
In Brooklyn, witnesses said it went pitch black at about 5:30 p.m. Trees started waving around like grass. Large branches snapped and hit cars, smashing windshields.
One witness told 1010 WINS that the situation in downtown Brooklyn looked “absolutely dire.”
“It was weird. It looked like all of a sudden it was 11 p.m., without lights. Really for like about a minute, you could not see anything. It got extremely dark. It was extremely dangerous. I just pulled over, I just couldn’t drive,” he said.
One Park Slope resident called the storm “terrible” and was even afraid for her life.
“I thought it was the end of the world,” she said. “I had my Life Alert on me, I was going to press that. I thought maybe I was going to die.”
Angelo Kalatouvis of Long Island said he was driving in Brooklyn and described quite a scene.
“The sky was like coming down and it was like torrential winds and lightning and very heavy rain for a couple of seconds. I thought the car’s going to fly up,” Kalatouvis said.
Steve Fanuka was driving on the Long Island Expressway and said he has never seen anything like this before.
“I’m 43 years old and … I was never freaked by rain, but I was pretty freaked out [during this storm.],” Fanuka said.MORE NEWS: NYC Vaccine Mandates: Where And How To Show Proof Of Vaccination For Indoor Activities