Northeast Severe Storms Kill Two, Leave Trail of Damage

July 27, 2012; 5:01 AM ET
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Central Pennsylvania resident Scott Frantz took this photo of a tree uprooted by strong winds in a Blanchard, Pa., graveyard Thursday.

An outbreak of severe weather stretching from the Ohio Valley to southern New England made for a rough summer day on Thursday as powerful thunderstorms left a path of destruction spanning hundreds of miles.

Two people were killed and at least five others injured as the storms, many packing winds in excess of 60 mph, swept east ahead of an approaching front.

A 66-year-old woman in Genesee, Pa., near the New York border, was struck and killed by a falling tree as she stepped out of her camper during a severe thunderstorm.

A 61-year-old man died in Brooklyn, New York, after lightning struck a church and sent a piece of scaffold crashing down onto him, according to CNN.

RELATED: Photos from Thursday's Storms

Trees falling onto vehicles in Rockaway and Camden, N.J., injured one and two people, respectively. In Brooklyn, N.Y., debris from a church steeple struck by lightning fell and seriously injured a pedestrian on the street below.

A tornado spawned by one storm led to numerous downed trees and building damage in Elmira, N.Y.

Twitter user @bonezx took this photo of ominous storm clouds over Old Bethpage, N.Y., Thursday evening.

More than 400 reports of severe weather or damage were compiled by the Storm Prediction Center from around 1:30 p.m. to shortly before midnight eastern time. Most of the reports were related to strong and damaging wind gusts.

The majority of damaging wind reports came in during the afternoon and early evening hours from northern Kentucky and southern Ohio into northern West Virginia, Pennsylvania, southern New York and the Tri-State area around New York City.

This was close to the area identified earlier in the day by AccuWeather.com meteorologists as being at a higher risk for severe wind gusts.

Many storms packed winds of between 60 and 70 mph, with the highest gust clocked at 75 mph in a storm that passed nearby Albany, Ohio, late in the afternoon.

Perhaps the worst damage was sustained across the twin tiers of northern Pennsylvania and southern New York.

Severe weather incidents compiled by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) from Thursday as of early Friday morning. For a full list, visit the SPC website.

A building under construction was toppled over by strong thunderstorm winds in Montrose, Pa. In Troy, Pa., tents at an outdoor fair were heavily damaged, forcing the cancellation of the evening's scheduled events.

Across the border in Barton, N.Y., roofs and porches were completely blown off some homes.

Vehicles driving through the storms along the major thoroughfare to the south of the border, Interstate 80, didn't fare much better. There were reports that tractor trailers were blown off the highway near Hazelton and in Delaware Water Gap near the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border.

While most of the damage was likely caused by straight-line thunderstorm winds, at least one tornado touched down, causing severe damage in Elmira, N.Y.

In the wake of the twister, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in the city, and enacted a curfew that lasted from 8:00 p.m. Thursday to 8:00 a.m. Friday morning.

Twitter user @LouisJGallo took this photo of a tree struck by lightning at Baptist Bible College in Clarks Summit, Pa., on Thursday.

Barely a street was untouched by wind damage, according to pressconnects.com. All buildings across the city school district will remain closed through Friday for damage assessment.

Many others will be assessing and cleaning up damage on Friday as power crews work feverishly to restore electricity.

More than 200,000 people were without power near the height of the heavy storms early Thursday evening. More than 94,000 of the customers affected were within First Energy Corporation's service area alone, spanning parts of Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

In Chemung County, N.Y., home to Elmira, about one in five residents of the county were without power at one point late Thursday.

Unfortunately, more severe weather is on the docket for Friday farther south from the southern Appalachians to the Delmarva and the Carolinas.

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