Hurricane-Force Winds, Torrential Rains Wreak Havoc

Numerous reports of severe storm damage come in from across the area

Friday will be a huge cleanup day for many. Thursday's severe thunderstorms rolled through the area with hurricane-force winds and torrential rains. That's left a lot of damage and close to 200,000 people without power

The sudden storms caught many people off-guard as trees and power lines came toppling down onto cars, homes and across roads throughout the area.

Tall trees littered a Drexel Hill, Pa. neighborhood like twigs in a yard. Huge branches were left strewn on the roof of homes, in the middle of the road and across sidewalks at Hillcrest and Windemere Roads.

Intense wind gusts peeled back part of the roof at an apartment complex at 31 W. Baltimore Pike in Landsdowne, Pa. Wood, insulation and belongings could be seen strewn throughout one destroyed third floor apartment.

Two Philadelphia Police officers narrowly escaped harm when a large tree dropped onto the roof of their cruiser along Lancaster Avenue in West Philadelphia. Luckily, the officers weren't hurt.

At Philadelphia International Airport, wind gusts reached hurricane-force strength blowing up to 75 m.p.h. Those winds sent a picnic umbrella flying through the window of PotBelly Sandwiches in University City. Glass was left strewn across the restaurant, but no one was hurt.

In King of Prussia, Pa., a tractor-trailer topped onto its side on the ramp for Rt. 202 as the storm took the driver by surprise. Officials are preparing to shut down the ramp and clean up the mess.

A townhome in Eagleview, Chester County caught fire after being struck by lighting. The homeowner told NBC Philadelphia he was napping when a huge boom awoke him. Seconds later, he smelled smoke and within minutes his home was destroyed.

The man said this is the second time in two years a townhome on this street was struck by lightning.

The Philadelphia Phillies had to postpone Thursday afternoon's game in the 8th inning as the wind-blown rains descended onto the ballpark. The field crew almost had to give up on covering the field as the protective tarp blew in the wind.

The dangerous storms struck around 3:30 p.m. as the extreme heat and fast-moving atmospheric winds fueled the intensification of the storms, NBC Philadelphia chief meteorologist Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz said.

Those wind gusts helped to knock out power to almost 300,000 electricity customers throughout the area in the immediate wake of the storm. As of 7 a.m. Friday morning PECO says 155,000 of its customers are in the dark. Atlantic City Electric has 36,800 outages in three N.J. counties and about 1,900 people are without power in Delaware.
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