5 tornadoes touched down in New York, Connecticut; 4 dead
NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - A powerful storm system with ferocious wind, rain, and hail passed through the New York area Tuesday, knocking down hundreds of trees and branches. The storm spawned at least five tornadoes, two macrobursts, and one microburst, according to National Weather Service teams investigating the storm damage.
The storm hit the Catskills, Hudson Valley, northern New Jersey, and western Connecticut the hardest. Two people died in New York and two died in Connecticut.
About 157,000 power outages are reported in New York and 86,000 in Connecticut.
In separate incidents in Connecticut, trees fell on trucks in New Fairfield and Danbury, killing two people, officials said.
A tree fell on an SUV in Newburgh, in Orange County, N.Y., trapping a girl inside. Her mother had just parked the SUV in their driveway on South Robinson Avenue when the tree snapped. Firefighters used power tools to cut away tree limbs to try to rescue her, but she died.
A man recorded video of their efforts. He said the tree snapped at its base as that violent thunderstorm moved in. The girl's mother stood outside the car. She was in tears as the fire department worked.
Also in Newburgh, a tree fell on a moving car, killing a woman inside.
"For that, there is nothing that we can do for all of our resources and all our good intent," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said about the deaths. "And that is just a painful, painful situation. I think the most unnatural situation to deal with is the loss of a child."
In downtown Newburgh, powerful wind gusts tore down a billboard and ripped the roof off a hotel just across the street. The violent storm toppled countless trees, which tore through power lines and dumped debris everywhere.
Indeed, the National Weather Service confirmed that an EF0 tornado with estimated peak winds of 85 mph moved through a path of 674 yards in Newburgh.
"The severe thunderstorms were very, very bad. You had hail the size of golf balls," Cuomo said after touring the damage in Putnam County on Wednesday. "The bands were fairly narrow and limited and fast moving, but they did a significant amount of damage as they went past."
In New York's Putnam County, an EF2 tornado with estimated peak winds of 110 mph tore up about 100 yards in Kent and an EF1 tornado with estimated peak winds of 100 mph cut a path of 75 yards in Patterson, the NWS team said.
Also in Putnam County, "a macroburst with maximum wind speeds of 80-90 mph impacted a swath of about three miles in width and four miles in length in the Cherry Hill area," the NWS team said.
The team also determined that a microburst impacted downed about 250 yards of trees in North Salem, Westchester County.
Cuomo declared a state of emergency in Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, and Sullivan Counties. He ordered 125 members of the New York National Guard to deploy Wednesday morning to help communities with cleanup, traffic control, and other work.
"You have trees down. You have utility poles down. You have power lines down," Cuomo said. "I urge caution for people and to tell their children, if they see a power line in the street it might be live so they shouldn't go near it."
Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. reported 78 mph wind gusts and about 1,000 lightning strikes per hour.
Thousands of utility workers were working feverishly to restore power. Putnam County grappled with 144 closed roads.
Cuomo, a Democrat, said communities could get federal assistance, depending on the extent of the damage.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said the storm hit the southwestern part of the state the hardest. Officials are assessing the damage for possible disaster declarations.
"There is a tremendous amount of damage," he said. "I think there are going to be a lot of people without power for days."
The National Weather Service said two tornadoes touched down in New Haven County, Connecticut.
"An EF1 tornado with estimated peak winds of 110 mph moved along a 9.5-mile path between Beacon Falls and Hamden," the NWS said in its storm report. "Numerous trees were uprooted along this path."
The other tornado was an EF1 with estimated peak winds of 100 mph that uprooted numerous trees along a 4.5-mile path between Southbury and Oxford.
The NWS also said a macroburst with maximum wind speeds of 100 to 110 mph caused extensive damage in an area about 2.5 miles wide and 5 miles long in Brookfield, Fairfield County.
"Macrobursts can produce as much if not more damage as tornadoes due to the size and scope of a macroburst," the NWS said. "The worst damage was from the Candlewood Shores area, extending east across Route 7, just north of Senior High School, to Lake Lillinonah."
The state's Insurance Department activated an emergency protocol that allows insurance companies to bring in out-of-state adjusters to help customers with claims.
"Residents and businesses who suffered damage from yesterday's storms will understandably be seeking assistance with their insurance companies," Malloy said. "Allowing out-of-state adjusters to assist will hopefully expedite this process and help folks during this time of need."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.