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Damaging winds, flooding downpours rattle Northeast's I-95 corridor

By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
August 08, 2019, 9:50:53 AM EDT

Severe thunderstorms blasted through the eastern United States on Wednesday, leaving some of the region's largest populated areas with property damage, power outages and flooding woes.

A large number of storms from Vermont and New Hampshire to Virginia and North Carolina produced winds high enough to topple trees and power lines. Gusts exceeding 60 mph were common.

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The National Weather Service reported that a brief EF0 tornado with radar-estimated winds of 70 mph swept through Springfield, New Jersey, in the afternoon. As of Wednesday night, this was the only tornado reported amid the severe weather.

Footage of the tornado and images of the aftermath surfaced on social media. Armando Salvadore, who describes himself as a meteorology student in his Twitter profile, captured video of the tornado forming over Springfield and whipping debris into the air as the "rope-like" funnel cloud took shape.

The tornado and its impacts were captured from other vantage points as well. One woman who was behind the wheel of her car and had a camera rolling as she drove along Springfield Avenue posted video on Twitter of debris flying through the air and tree branches falling out of the sky and onto the road, adding, "I think I drove through a tornado." She punctuated the dramatic footage with several expletives, clearly alarmed at the extreme weather conditions unfolding around her.

After the twister blew through, another woman, Amy Boroff, posted video of the aftermath in the parking lot of a Springfield store. Boroff's video clip showed shopping carts and snapped tree branches strewn about the area.

In addition to damaging winds, the storms unleashed heavy rainfall which turned some roadways into rivers. This led to a travel nightmare during the afternoon and evening commute.

The Department of Public Safety in Newark, New Jersey, conducted 11 water rescues of drivers trapped in their vehicles. The department was urging motorists to avoid flooded streets.

There were many reports of water rescues between Philadelphia and southeast Montgomery County in Pennsylvania, with a section of Interstate 76 being shut down due to flooding. Radar estimates showed more than 3.5 inches of rain fell in Philadelphia Wednesday evening

Flooding along Pantreading Creek near Ardmore, Pennsylvania, led to the evacuation of approximately 18 homes, according to local emergency management.

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Significant flash flooding led to multiple vehicles being trapped in floodwaters in Hartford, Connecticut.

Air travel was also affected at the major hubs in the Northeast as over 650 flights were canceled and even more delayed. In New York City, a lightning bolt was captured on video striking in the Union Square section of Manhattan.

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The leading edge of a severe thunderstorm near Rockville, Maryland, on Wednesday afternoon. (Twitter/@Theathrofsrcsm)

The severe weather reached Boston on Wednesday night as the hometown Red Sox were heading to extra innings against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. The game was eventually suspended after being delayed for nearly 2 hours. The game will resume on Aug. 22 at 1:05 p.m. EDT.

While the worst of the storms spared central Pennsylvania, a spectacular lightning display was seen with the setting sun as the backdrop.


Lightning in State College, Pennsylvania. (Image via AccuWeather Meteorologist Alan Reppert)

AccuWeather Broadcast Meteorologist and volunteer firefighter Geoff Cornish reported that firefighters were responding to two incidents of lightning striking buildings in the State College, Pennsylvania, area on Wednesday evening.

On Thursday, the risk of heavy to locally severe storms will set up farther west, focusing on an area from New York state to central Ohio.

Download the free AccuWeather app to stay alert to the forecast for your area. Keep checking back for updates on and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

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