New Jersey

Severe Storm Sparks Tornado Warnings for 9 Pa. and N.J. Counties; Flash Flooding and High Winds Shut Down Roads and a Train Line

What to Know

  • A severe storm blew through the Philly area Friday night putting 9 counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey under a tornado threat.
  • Torrential rain caused flash flooding that caught drivers off-guard. Some drivers had to be rescued from their vehicles. Roads were closed.
  • High winds brought down trees onto homes and SEPTA's Paoli/Thorndale regional rail line suspending service.

A First Alert was in effect until at least 10 a.m. Saturday after a severe storm barreled through the Philadelphia region on Friday night, packing strong winds that brought down trees onto a rail line and houses and heavy rain that flooded roads.

The harsh weather also prompted forecasters to issue four tornado warnings in the span of an hour.

Eight southeastern Pennsylvania counties — including Philadelphia — and Mercer County in New Jersey were placed under those tornado warnings at various stages Friday night. While the warnings were issued after rotation was indicated on Doppler radar, there are not yet any reports of a funnel cloud touching down.

Besides the tornado threat, heavy rain poured onto communities in the Pennsylvania suburbs over a two hour span. The torrential rain caused flash flooding that caught drivers off-guard. 

Pottstown in Montgomery County was clobbered by the storm. Part of the roof of an apartment building at York Street and Reynolds Avenue was ripped off and thrown to the street. The building was running on emergency power.

First responders had to rescue several people from flash flood waters. High winds also brought down several trees onto homes. One-inch hail was reported in that same area.

Flooding on U.S. 422 between Hill Road and Limekiln Road has all westbound lanes closed. I-78 westbound is also shut down between Exit 60A and Exit 57.

The worst of the storm seemed to be over by Saturday afternoon, but the National Weather Service issued flood warnings for parts of Berks, Montgomery, Lehigh, Bucks, Chester and Northampton counties in Pennsylvania as well as Hunterdon and Warren counties in New Jersey. Those warnings expired around 3:45 p.m. however.

SEPTA's Paoli/Thorndale regional rail line is suspended indefinitely between the Malvern and Thorndale stations due to downed trees and overhead wires. Shuttle buses were operating between Malvern and Thorndale as an alternative.

At one point, PECO Energy reported that more than 15,000 customers in Montgomery and Chester counties were without power. PECO Energy reported that 7,564 customers remained without power as of around 8:45 a.m. Saturday.

The four tornado warnings were for:

Central Bucks and northwestern Mercer counties until 12:30 a.m. Saturday, though it expired early.

Northern Philadelphia, southeastern Bucks, southeastern Montgomery, east-central Chester and northern Delaware counties were under a Tornado Warning that expired at 11:45 p.m. Friday.

North-central Montgomery, northwestern Bucks, southeastern Lehigh and south-central Northampton counties remained under the warning until 11:30 p.m. Friday.

The first warning, issued at 10:32 p.m., included sections of Berks and Chester counties. That warning expired at 11 p.m.

On Saturday, the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado did not hit our region. Instead, areas of straight line winds caused the damage in Chester and Montgomery counties.

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