Tornado Confirmed: Why Four Have Hit NJ This Season Already
MOUNT LAUREL — A land spout that touched down in South Jersey on Saturday afternoon was the fourth tornado in the state this year.
The tornado, which was rated an EF0 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, was quick but powerful, according to the National Weather Service's preliminary report -- with 70 mph winds that had a path of only five yards.
In that short distance, it touched down in a warehouse parking lot and then passed over the warehouse, pulling up roofing material and two air conditioning units.
The wind also caused the roof to bow and dislodged ceiling tiles throughout the building's interior. It' also being blamed for flipping over a parked car.
"It's weak as far as tornadoes go, but definitely dramatic," WPG meteorologist Dan Zarrow said, adding that no one was injured by the short-lived tornado.
Zarrow said the Mount Laurel tornado was New Jersey's fourth of the year after confirmed storms in Stanhope, Mullica Hill and a waterspout off Fortescue in the Delaware Bay, the most in a calendar year since 2003. Zarrow suspects a few other weak tornadoes happened but were never made official.
Despite the busy season, it's not likely to become the new normal for New Jersey.
"It's just been a warm, wet spring and summer. That's an explosive combination in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, this latest storm, while relatively small and isolated, went undetected at the time," Zarrow said. "There was no warning issued at the time, an unsettling thought that it evaded radar. It's a good lesson that on a severe weather day, we all need to be 'weather aware' for whatever Mother Nature may throw at us."
The storm was part of a series of storms that marched across New Jersey on Saturday dumping heavy rain and prompted a tornado warning in Hunterdon County as well.
Funnel clouds were also spotted over the Ocean Acres section of Stafford Township, where people had to be rescued from vehicles caught in high water, according to the NWS.
The heaviest rain fell in southern Ocean County, according to Zarrow, from Berkeley Township to Forked River to Waretown to Barnegat to Stafford Township, where radar estimates three inches fell.
Several underpasses on Main Street in Metuchen were flooded, according to the NWS.