The weather service said in a preliminary report that a tornado may have hit Breezy Point, a neighborhood on the Rockaway Peninsula of Queens.
“We have confirmed large trees were uprooted and electrical wires taken down. We also have confirmation a house roof being compromised. The roof has been taken off,” he said.
According to the BBC, the first storm, with winds up to 70mph (113km/h), struck Breezy Point on Queens’ Rockaway Peninsula. The second tornado, with gusts reaching 110mph, hit Brooklyn’s Canarsie area just minutes later.
Tornadoes were once exceedingly rare in New York but they have occurred with regularity in recent years. A small tornado uprooted trees on Long Island last month.
Amateur footage purported to have been filmed at Breezy Point and Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, appears to show a tornado touching down and causing damage.
“I was showing videos of tornadoes to my 4-year-old on my phone, and two minutes later, it hit,” said Breezy Point neighborhood resident Peter Maloney. “Just like they always say, it sounded like a train.”
The National Weather Service (NWS) said thunderstorms were likely to affect parts of New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, with more tornadoes possible.
The Telegraph reports that the severe weather forced the US Open tennis women’s singles final at Flushing Meadows to be delayed from Saturday evening until Sunday, the US Tennis Association said.
Andy Murray battled the weather to get through to the final but he said it was “some of the toughest conditions I have ever played in.”
At the Breezy Point Surf Club, the tornado ripped the roofs off rows of cabanas, scattered deck chairs and left a heavy metal barbecue and propane tank sitting in the middle of a softball field, at least 90m from any nearby home.
“It picked up picnic benches. It picked up dumpsters,” said Thomas Sullivan, the club’s general manager.
According to News.com.au, the tornado struck as part of a line of storms that were expected to bring damaging winds, hail, heavy rain and possibly more tornadoes throughout the mid-Atlantic and Northeast region.
Across New York state, in Buffalo, strong winds from a broad front of thunderstorms blew roofing off of some buildings and sent bricks falling into the street. The storm system killed four people, including a child, in Oklahoma on Friday.
National Weather Service meteorologist Pete Snyder says radar didn’t show a tornado in the area but a team was dispatched to determine what happened.
Radar data, video and witness reports said that the cyclone that hit New York City was a tornado, National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Hofmann said.
Rick Harper, Nowata County sheriff’s deputy said the winds picked up the mobile home and carried it about 90m before it landed. Harper says the home basically “disintegrated” and officials found the bodies in the water after a two-hour search.