Two tornadoes touch down in NYC on Saturday
posted at 11:36 am on September 9, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
When lamp shades shook and windows rattled all over the Big Apple one calm afternoon last August, many New Yorkers were incredulous that they had just experienced an earthquake, if in miniature. This time around, there was no mistaking the nature of the severe weather as two separate ominous black funnels swept through parts of Brooklyn and Queens.
The pictures don’t lie. One tornado rampaged through a beachfront neighborhood in Queens, sending debris flying and knocking out power. Snapshots and videos taken by bystanders showed the anvil-shaped cloud sucking up water, then sand, and finally manmade structures. The area hardest hit was the Breezy Point section of the Rockaway peninsula in Queens.
A second tornado struck further west in Canarsie, Brooklyn. The National Weather Service reported that winds were clocked at up to 110 miles per hour. Several homes and trees were damaged, but no serious injuries were reported.
The New York Post gathered reactions from residents. One of them is quoted as saying, “It was crazy. There were a lot of sirens going off. You could see it twisting.” Another said, “I was showing videos of tornadoes to my 4-year-old on my phone, and two minutes later, it hit. Just like they always say, it sounded like a train.”
The Post reports that the tornado ripped the roofs off rows of cabanas at the Breezy Point Surf Club. The winds also rearranged deck chairs and left a heavy metal barbecue and propane tank sitting in the middle of a softball field. “It picked up picnic benches. It picked up dumpsters,” said the club’s general manager.
Although both storms were officially designated as tornadoes, they may not be the first to visit the five boroughs. In 2010, violent winds swept along the city’s southern coast, felling trees and power lines. A video report suggests that many at the time presumed the event to be a twister.