So Was That a Tornado? Aftermath of the Storm

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Photo: Nitasha Tiku

Investigators from the National Weather Service are still trying to assess whether the short-lived freak storm that brought us gravel-colored skies, felled trees, and all manner of flying objects yesterday afternoon was actually a tornado. The NWS told Intel that they don't expect a ruling until this evening. The agency did report one sighting of a funnel cloud in the Huguenot neighborhood of Staten Island at 5:35 pm. Other damage reports are already pouring in. Thirty-year-old Iline Levakis was killed last night when a massive tree smashed into her car after she pulled off the Grand Central Parkway in Forest Hills to escape the rain. Thankfully, her passenger, a 60-year-old man, escaped with only minor injuries. Jeffrey Greenburg who was driving near where Levakis' car was stopped told the Post, "I seen the tree flying right in front of my car -- it went right on by like Dorothy from 'The Wizard of Oz.' "

The Post is reporting winds of up to 100 miles-per-hour, the Times pegs it lower at 60 to 80 miles-per-hour. Con Ed said at least 30,000 customers were without power last night, with the bulk of the problem in Queens, with 27,000 outages. Part of the damage was caused by trees that were ripped from the sidewalk blew 30 or 40 feet away, knocking out power lines as they landed. The storm moved from Staten Island to Brooklyn, hitting Park Slope and Bedford-Stuyvesant hard. Then, it traveled to Queens, with Middle Village, Forest Hills, and Bayside. Both Queens and Brooklyn reported at least two partial building collapses a piece. LIRR service from Penn Station was shut down until late last night, but rush hour trains may not be back to full service this morning. Since 1974, seven tornadoes have been confirmed in New York City, the last tearing through the Bronx two months ago. Tell us what you saw in the comments.

Killer storm batters New York [NYP]
New York City Battered by Fierce Storm [NYT]
Investigators Assess Whether Tornado Hit N.Y.C. [NPR]

Related: Slideshow: Many Trees Fall in Brooklyn