Severe Thunderstorms, Strong Winds Slam Philadelphia Region, Leave Floods, Outages

Storms that packed strong winds and heavy rain have left parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania with power outages, flooding and road closings.

High winds and heavy rain brought down trees and large branches in neighborhoods on Wednesday night, damaging some homes and buildings. Several highways or portions of highways have been closed. [[370078331, C]]

Utility crews worked through the night restoring power to thousands of customers in the two states. As of 5 a.m. Thursday the lights came back on for most customers but thousands remained in the dark.

There were 19,707 Pennsylvania homes and businesses without power Thursday morning. PECO was reporting more than 10,000 customers without power in Philadelphia and four surrounding counties. PPL had 7,120 outages.

There were 11,895 homes and businesses without power Thursday morning in New Jersey. Most of PSE&G's 4,637 outages were in Middlesex and Camden counties. Atlantic City Electric reported 2,152 customers without service, mostly in Gloucester and Atlantic counties.

Restrictions on trucks due to wind are in effect on several area bridges including the Commodore Barry Bridge, the Walt Whitman Bridge and the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Drivers should also be weary of some flooding spots that remained on side roads.

The flood threat continues along areas creeks, streams and rivers as the National Weather Service issued a series of flood warnings timed around crest times.

"That is extremely fast for an isolated storm," said NBC10 First Alert Weather meteorologist Sheena Parveen. "We typically don't see it that fast but we are dealing with a very unstable weather pattern." 


Philadelphia was hit hard by rain and heavy wind gusts as well. The winds blew over a sign at a Burger King along Rising Sun Avenue near Van Kirk Street in Lawncrest. They also caused a tree to fall onto a car in the Mount Airy section of the city.

Wednesday’s storms caused significant damage in Philadelphia and Montgomery County. NBC10’s Randy Gyllenhaal takes a look at the damage, including a home that was struck by a fallen tree.

I-76 eastbound was closed between the Girard and Montgomery Drive exits due to flooding on the road. Part of Lincoln Drive was also closed late Wednesday into Thursday. Intermittent closures continued on Lincoln Drive during the Thursday morning rush.

The bad weather also caused numerous flight delays and cancellations at Philly International Airport.


The storms also caused power outages in parts of Abington Township, where many roads were flooded and blocked to traffic. In Cheltenham Township a large tree collapsed on the roof of a home. Fortunately no one inside was injured. Rescue crews told NBC10 they've had a busy night and expect conditions to get worse in the area.

In Pottstown four people were trapped inside a car that was stuck in knee-deep water at the intersection of High and Manatawny streets. The driver, Leonardo Rosario, told NBC10 his engine died out and stalled while his 1-year-old daughter was inside the car.

"I was pretty nervous for my daughter," Rosario said. "She was upset and crying and whatnot. I mean any parent would be so I had to call the ambulance and try to make moves before anything else could've happened."

Help eventually arrived and Rosario's vehicle was towed away.


Another Salisbury Township, this one in Lehigh County, also dealt with severe damage from Wednesday's storm. The basement of a home on the 1600 block of Broadway was flooded with about three feet of water. Drivers were also stuck inside their cars in a foot and a half of water at 33rd and Lehigh streets. Fortunately responding rescue crews were able to get them out.

Flooding led to trapped drivers and water rescues throughout the region, especially in Lehigh County.


The storms also caused flooding, damage and power outages in South Jersey. In Vineland a tree crashed through the ceiling of the All Kids First Daycare on the 1300 block of Stewart Street. The tree fell through the ceiling and into a baby room that held four cribs. Fortunately no children were inside at the time.

"Thank God no employees and no babies were injured," said Carol Deola, the owner of the day care. "We're really happy."

Not far away from the day care, heavy winds caused power lines to droop over Magnolia Road. In neighboring Millville, orange cones marked where a tree snapped and toppled a power line on Mays Landing Road.

Wednesday’s storms left plenty of damage in South Jersey. In Vineland, a tree crashed into a daycare in Vineland, NJ. Fortunately no one was hurt. NBC10’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas spoke to the Daycare’s owner about the close call.


Lancaster County was hit especially hard. The storm caused a barn to collapse in Salisbury Township. Wires fell on roads and destructive winds blew debris hundreds of yards into fencing and trees. Fire crews responded to calls for building collapses, downed power lines, downed trees and street flooding. Families in the town told NBC10 they took cover in their basement and were shocked when they stepped back outside to see the massive destruction.

"It's pretty bad," said Caroline Huiard. "There's a lot of damage around and in the area. It's sad because it's our neighborhood. We didn't think it would be this bad. Honestly we didn't." 

Despite all the damage, no injuries were reported. While there was a Tornado Warning for the area, officials have not yet determined whether or not a tornado actually touched down.

Severe thunderstorms and heavy wind caused destruction in Lancaster County, damaging homes and buildings. NBC10’s Denise Nakano takes a look at all the damage in Salisbury Township.

We could see some light showers Thursday morning and temperatures around 50 degrees. We'll see more strong winds during the day with gusts near 40 mph. Friday will be sunny but chilly with a high in the low 40s. Saturday will be chilly as well with a high in the mid-40s. Temperatures will finally rise again Sunday with highs near 60 degrees.

Stay with NBC10 for the latest updates on the storm. 


AAA Tips for Driving in During Heavy Rain, Slick Roads, Reduced Visibility and Potential Flooding:

AA Mid-Atlantic asked NBC10 to share these tips with viewers.

•    Turn Around, Don’t Drown!  Do not attempt to drive through flooded roads.  Just a few inches of water can turn your vehicle into a boat, and could put your life, and the lives of those around you, at great risk. There is also a danger of asphyxiation if your tailpipe becomes filled with water.  Turn around; find another way to get to your destination.  Pull over to a safe location if needed.
•    Slow down and increase following distances. Speed limits are set for ideal road conditions. When it rains, visibility is reduced and braking distances increase.
•    Slowing down in the rain also minimizes car repairs.  Many motorists try to move fast through driveable puddles, but it’s actually better for your car if you go slowly.  Driving fast can force the water to splash up into your car’s undercarriage and cause damage.  Your vehicle could suffer electrical problems and other issues caused by water damage - and many of the repairs involve SUV’s because people mistakenly think they are safe to drive through standing water.
•    When driving on pothole-filled roads, hold the steering wheel firmly to avoid losing control.
•         When a pothole encounter is unavoidable, slow down as much as possible but release the brakes and straighten the steering wheel before striking the pothole.
•    Watch out for hydroplaning. No car is immune from hydroplaning on wet surfaces, including four-wheel drive vehicles.
•    Alert drivers behind you that you’re slowing with your brake lights. Without anti-lock brakes, squeeze the brakes until they are about to lock up and then release. With anti-lock brakes, use the same move – but don’t pump the brakes, which would work against the operation of the ABS system.
•    Fumes and oil leaks that build up on dry pavement rise to the surface of the road when it rains, making the road far slicker than it may seem.
•    If conditions worsen to the point where there is any doubt about your safety, take the nearest exit.  Don’t just stop on the shoulder or under a bridge. If your visibility is compromised, other drivers may be struggling too.
•    Remember, it’s the law in Pennsylvania to turn your headlights on if your windshield wipers are in use. 
•    Buckle up, slow down, and keep a safe distance from the car in front of you.
•         To report a pothole in Philadelphia – call 311 or 215-686-5560 or visit Outside of Philadelphia, motorists can contact PennDOT by calling 1-800-FIX-ROAD or report the problem to their Customer Care Center.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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