After a rare tornado warning was issued Tuesday, a strong line of thunderstorms ripped through central New Jersey with powerful winds that caused many trees to be ripped out of the ground in Pennington and West Windsor. Some of the trees caused structural damage to houses and some landed on cars, according to reports from residents and police.
The warning was issued for parts of Mercer, Middlesex and Monmouth counties at 3:40 p.m. and canceled shortly after 4 p.m. but some strong thunderstorm cells continued moving through the region, darkening skies, dropping hail and sending bolts of lightning through the air.
The Newark Star Ledger reports meteorologists from the National Weather Service plan to visit parts of Mercer county on Wednesday to investigate whether a tornado touched down. A survey team will inspect the damage near West Windsor and Lawrenceville to determine if there’s evidence that a twister was responsible or if the damage was caused by straight-line thunderstorm winds. The agency said it expects to announce its findings by 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
Police Chief Christopher Longo, of the Lawrence Township Police Department, shared footage of the significant damage at the Lawrence Square Village housing development, urging residents who have been displaced to head to a nearby command post for help, according to local media.
Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes said local officials were getting “reports from around the county of wind-related damage, downed trees and building damage.”
In nearby Princeton Junction, photos and videos of damage showed numerous downed trees and power lines and large debris littering neighborhoods. Heavy wind damage was also reported in the area of West Windsor, with parts of roofs torn off homes and buildings, trees uprooted and cars damaged.
Due to the storm damage, U.S. Route 1 was closed in both directions Tuesday afternoon in the area of the Quaker Bridge Mall in Lawrenceville.
If confirmed to be a tornado, Tuesday’s storm would be just the fifth February tornado on record for New Jersey and the first since 1999.
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