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Deadly storms bring explosive end to heat wave that roasted Northeast and mid-Atlantic

By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer
July 23, 2019, 4:09:13 PM EDT

Following days of brutal heat in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, severe thunderstorms trekked over the region on Monday night, causing dangerous flash flooding and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands in New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Two fatalities have been reported following the storms. In Maryland, evening storms knocked a tree down, killing an 89-year-old man in his driveway on Monday. Local news outlets report the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office responded to an emergency call Monday night. Crews found that a tree had fallen on the man and trapped him underneath.

In Neptune, New Jersey, a 17-year-old boy died in a house fire after severe storms rolled through early Tuesday morning. The home broke out in flames just after midnight and there was no power at the time. Candles may have been in use, but the cause of the fire is under investigation. Two others were able to escape the blaze to safety, ABC Eyewitness News reports.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said more than 300,000 customers were affected by power outages from the storm. By Tuesday morning, at least 230,000 customers remained without power in the state, mostly in Monmouth County, according to The number of customer without power was less than 150,000 by Tuesday afternoon.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A pedestrian pushes a stroller past a tree downed from a recent storm in Collingswood, N.J., Tuesday, July 23, 2019.

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A dugout on a baseball field at Howell High School is destroyed in Farmingdale, N.J., Tuesday, July 23, 2019.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Arborist with the Dependable Tree Company work to remove a tree downed from a recent storm in Collingswood, N.J., Tuesday, July 23, 2019.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Residents inspect their neighbor's tree downed from a recent storm in Collingswood, N.J., Tuesday, July 23, 2019.

(Donald Colarruso/Neptune Township OEM and Special Operations via AP)

In this Monday, July 22, 2019, photo provided by the Neptune Township OEM and Special Operations, a tree crashed through a home during a severe storm in Neptune Township, N.J.

(Donald Colarruso/Neptune Township OEM and Special Operations, via AP)

In this Monday photo provided by the Neptune Township OEM and Special Operations, a tree leans on the roof of a home after toppling during a severe storm in Neptune, N.J.

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A car is crushed under a large tree in Neptune City, N.J., Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Crews are working to restore electricity for hundreds of thousands of people in New Jersey.

(Facebook/ Howell Township Police Department)

In Howell Township, New Jersey, the local police reported that 18,000 residences and businesses were without power on Monday, July 22, after severe storms moved through the area.

(Facebook/Howell Township Police Department)

In Howell Township, traffic lights were out, roadways were closed, utility lines were downs, and trees were blocking lanes of travel on Monday.

(Facebook/ Howell Township Police Department)

Howell Township was left in "bad shape" and the power was expected to be out multiple days according to the police department.

(Lee and Julie Whitney)

Storm clouds rolled over the beach in Manasquan, New Jersey, around 7 p.m. EDT on Monday. The storms flooded the streets and knocked out power to many.

(Twitter/Neptune OEM)

Firefighters working on shed fire on Melrose Ave in Shark River Hills in Neptune, New Jersey, late Monday. The surrounding roads were closed.

(Twitter/ Neptune OEM)

Firefighters working on shed fire on Melrose Ave in Shark River Hills in Neptune, New Jersey, late Monday. The surrounding roads were closed.

(Twitter/ Neptune Police)

On Tuesday morning, 6th Ave remains closed between Ridge and Atkins with a tree down on top of a vehicle and wires in Neptune, New Jersey.

Some thunderstorms brought damaging wind gusts, which knocked down power lines and trees. Thunderstorms brought gusts in excess of 60 mph in parts of Cape May County, New Jersey, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Courtney Travis.

Howell Township, located in Monmouth County, took a hard hit from the storm. According to the Howell Township Police Department, about 18,000 residences and businesses were without power on Monday. Traffic lights were out, roads were closed, trees were blocking lanes of travel, and utility lines were down throughout the township. Multiple trees crashed down on residences and vehicles.

"This is no time to be on roadways without a justifiable reason. It is dangerous. DO NOT venture out to go sightseeing," the police wrote in a Facebook post on Monday night. "Don’t make other people’s misfortune be your entertainment."

The township police called in additional officers and resources to assist with restoration efforts.

"The Township is in bad shape. DO NOT expect power to be restored for an extended period of time. This may be multiple days. Help out each other," the Facebook post concluded.

In Camden, New Jersey, just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, hurricane-force winds were reported and video that surfaced on social media showed a scene that was reminiscent of a hurricane. According to AccuWeather meteorologists, wind gusts hit 80 mph in Camden.

And South Jersey wasn't the only place to experience hurricane-force gusts. A wind gust of 81 mph was recorded in Tangier, Virginia. Less powerful wind gusts also had strong impacts across parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland and northern Virginia. There have been reports of toppled trees and broken branches, Travis said.

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Along with powerful wind gusts, the storms unleashed heavy rainfall on parts of the region.

"More heavy rain moved through the I-95 corridor late Monday night and early Tuesday bringing another dose of flash flooding. JFK airport, after picking up 1.5 inches of rain Monday evening, received just shy of two more inches of rain early on Tuesday," Travis said.

The severe storms disrupted travel Monday into Tuesday, both in the air on the ground. Hundreds of flights in and out of Newark Liberty International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, JFK International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport were either delayed or canceled on Monday, and more continue to be impacted into Tuesday morning, according to FlightAware.

Train services were also disrupted due to the storms throughout the Tri-state area, creating a nightmare for many commuters. The Port Authority Transit Corporation Speedline (PATCO), NJ Transit, and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) report closed routes and stations, or delayed trains on Monday morning.

Streets looked more like waterways in some locations after storms moved through, including in New York City. Eastern New York reported more than 2 inches of rain through Monday evening.

In New York City, heavy rain flooded the streets and created dangerous potential for flash floods. Ahead of the storms, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a flash flood advisory. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged residents to exercise extreme caution when out on the roads and to stay inside if possible.

City officials deployed emergency forces later Monday night as the severe storms rolled through New York City. The mayor deployed a New York City Emergency Management command post, 200 New York Police Department (NYPD) officers and personnel to patrol streets and direct traffic, 21light towers with 50 on standby, and an emergency shelter for anyone in need.

Videos shared on social media captured the heavy flooding in parts of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island on Monday night during the storms. Some videos show flooding deep enough to float cars and road blocks. Commuters were captured struggling to navigate through the water-covered roadways.

Brooklyn, which experienced a mass power outage during the heat emergency on Sunday night, continues to be plagued with significant outages. Con Ed reports 6,500 customers without power in Brooklyn and another 8,000 in Queens -- the vast majority in the neighborhoods around Jamaica. Smaller isolated outages on Staten Island and in Manhattan and the Bronx. Service was restored to most by Tuesday.

Several other locations reported heavy rainfall. In 24 hours, over 2.5 inches of rain was reported in Hillsborough county, New Hampshire. A number of other locations across Maine and Massachusetts reported more than 2 inches of rain through Monday evening.

"Heavy rain also prompted flash flooding across parts of New Jersey and West Virginia, and even water rescues," Travis said.

Severe storms continued into Tuesday morning across part of the Northeast with reports of a tornado near the coast of southeastern Massachusetts near Cape Cod.

The severe storms signal to many relief to several days of extreme heat. However, while temperatures have dropped across much of the Northeast, humidity will remain high with some addition rain forecast along the I-95 corridor through Tuesday night.

"The majority of the Northeast will have a dry and less humid day on Wednesday," Travis said.

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