September 26, 2021

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N.J. weather: Multiple tornadoes reported on the ground, caught on video as Ida rips across state – NJ.com

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Multiple tornadoes may have touched down in New Jersey as the remnants of Hurricane Ida ripped through the state Wednesday evening amid numerous flash flood, severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings.

The National Weather Service said shortly before 6:30 p.m. that “a confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado was located over Woodbury Heights, or 8 miles south of Gloucester City, moving northeast at 40 mph.”

“This is a particularly dangerous situation,” the weather service said. “Take cover now!”

Another tornado appeared to touch down in Burlington County, based on multiple videos from the scene.

The National Weather Service said a 911 call center received a report of “significant damage in the Mullica Hill area, including several homes damaged and trees down on Cedar Road.”

The weather service also received a report of a funnel cloud and damage in Wenonah Borough in Gloucester County at 6:27 p.m., but it wasn’t immediately clear if this was related to the tornado that was spotted in Woodbury Heights.

Videos and photos on social media showed major damage, including homes nearly entirely destroyed.

The Harmony Volunteer Fire Company in Mullica Hill reported rescuers from around Gloucester County were deployed the heavily-damaged area. There were reports of “multiple victims trapped” in Harrison Township, which includes Mullica Hill, the fire department said.

“Gloucester County has experienced devastating storm damage. It is likely that multiple tornadoes have touched down within our communities,” the county’s Office of Emergency Management said in a statement.

Officials also opened a shelter at Gloucester County Institute of Technology, according to the Clearview Regional School District.

Frank Tedesco, a spokesman for Atlantic City Electric, said the company’s power infrastructure had “significant damage” after a tornado hit the area. Crews needed to asses the damage before any estimates on when service could be restored, the spokesman said.

Gov. Phil Murphy also said he was aware of the tornado that blew through the Mullica Hill.

“Just spoke with Harrison Township Mayor Lou Manzo about the devastating tornado that ripped through the Mullica Hill community and surrounding area tonight,” Murphy said. “We’re closely monitoring the situation and will do whatever is needed to support the response & recovery in the days ahead.”

Detective Bob Jones, a spokesman for the Deptford Police Department, said around 7 p.m. that no injuries were reported in town.

“We are responding to multiple reports of damage in the area of New Jersey Avenue and Cattell Road,” Jones told NJ Advance Media. “Trees/wires down, wind damage, etc. We are opening our Emergency Operations Command Center to maintain a unified command throughout the night.”

Photos and videos showed houses with roofs ripped off in the area.

Anna Weis could see the tornado just beyond where she was standing on her back porch in Mullica Hill on Tuesday.

“It’s had to be at least ten years since we’ve seen a tornado this close,” she told NJ Advance Media.

Weiss, a realtor in Gloucester County, was also keeping her eyes on the nearby William Heritage Winery located right off US-322.

Weiss, who is related to owners Bill and Penni Heritage, said the couple was away visiting family in Louisiana, “taking care of them after the storm there.” In their absence, the very same storm made its way up the east coast, and came uncomfortably close to their family-owned winery.

“They were happy to hear the winery is okay, it was just beyond us,” Weis said.

The weather service also said shortly after 7 p.m. that “a confirmed large and destructive tornado was observed over Beverly in Burlington County about 12 miles southwest of Trenton, moving northeast at 40 mph” and described this as a “tornado emergency for Bristol, Croydon and Burlington.”

Burlington County Spokesman David Levinsky said he confirmed that there were sightings of tornadoes in the western portion of the county but he was unsure if one actually touched down.

“I can confirm that there have been sightings of a tornado that moved through area of Edgewater Park, Beverly and Burlington but so far we have not confirmed whether it touched down anywhere and we have received no reports of significant damages or injuries,” Levinsky said.

Despite all the video footage appearing on social media, the National Weather Service’s Mount Holly office says it can only confirm one tornado touching down in New Jersey so far Wednesday night — the funnel cloud that was seen in Mullica Hill in Gloucester County.

Sarah Johnson, a meteorologist at the office, said they will be reviewing other reports after the storms end and will decide whether to send a survey team out to any locations where funnel clouds or heavy damage was reported.Johnson said several reports of funnel clouds in other parts of Gloucester County — including Wenonah and Woodbury Heights — appeared to be associated with the same thunderstorm that moved through Mullica Hill, so it was likely the same tornado.

”There were several others where we had signatures on radar that were very indicative of a tornado,” but the weather service could not confirm that any of those actually touched down on the ground, Johnson noted.

A large funnel cloud that was seen on video sweeping across the Burlington-Bristol Bridge is one of those that might not have touched down to become an official tornado, Johnson said. The bridge connects Burlington, New Jersey, with Bristol Township, Pennsylvania over the Delaware River.

In other parts of the state, flooding was more of an issue than tornadoes.

Flooding was reported across much of North Jersey and also in the western portion of the state, such as Hunterdon County.

Multiple flash flood warnings were in place throughout the state.

Reporters Len Melisurgo and Jackie Roman contributed to this report.

Thank you for relying on us to provide the journalism you can trust. Please consider supporting NJ.com with a voluntary subscription.

Chris Sheldon may be reached at csheldon@njadvancemedia.com.

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