It may have felt like a tornado blew through Gloucester County, New Jersey packing 85 mph winds during Tuesday's storm, but the National Weather Service says there was no evidence of a twister touching down.
A team from the NWS toured several locations in the county Wednesday morning to determine if a tornado was responsible for the widespread damage. NWS meteorologist Gary Szatkowski said the damage was consistent with straight-line winds.
Gloucester County was one of the hardest hit areas during the fierce storms. At the Deptford Mall, several witnesses described what they thought was a tornado. A car was flipped over on its roof and parts of the mall’s exterior were ripped off.
Federal forecasters confirmed Wednesday afternoon a macroburst — strong winds produced by a 6 mile wide or larger downdraft — blew winds of 85 mph in East Greenwhich Township, Gloucester County.
Nearby in Sewell, Vicky Tench was driving down Heritage Road with her brother when winds punched down trees right in front of their car. She recorded the whole thing and credited her brother with keeping them safe.
Storm survey completed. Verdict is straight line wind damage and NOT a tornado in Gloucester County,NJ. http://t.co/T2f0YGrEIw— NWS Mount Holly (@NWS_MountHolly) June 24, 2015
Utility officials say some residents in storm-ravaged areas of southern New Jersey may not get their power restored until the weekend.
Atlantic City Electric said crews were working around the clock to clear toppled trees and other debris that were hampering restoration efforts. The utility's crews were being assisted by workers from other utilities in New Jersey and several other states. Nearly 280,000 customers were without power during the height of the storm.
The Red Cross opened two reception centers in Gloucester County, where residents can get food, water and power for their phones and medical equipment. The centers are located at the Gloucester County Complex at 1200 North Delsea in Clayton and the Mount Royal Firehouse at 5 Mantua Blvd. in Mount Royal.
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Across the river in Pennsylvania, there was a similar scene of destruction. Trees sheered off parts of homes in Gulph Mills, Montgomery County and Brookhaven, Delaware County. Tim Wilwert was looking out the window when his oak tree started to sway.
"I see the tree going back and forth and back and forth and the thing starts coming toward me and I took off runnin' out the front door — screamin' for my neighbors," he said. Branches ripped the outer wall clear off exposing the entire house — including the attic leaving storage bins teetering on the floor's edge.
Drivers trapped between down electric wires and trees along busy U.S. 1 in Glenn Mills, Delaware County abandoned their vehicles. A day later, they still sit waiting to be freed.
Szatkowski said other counties in both states that suffered major damage did not request a tornado survey from the agency.