NEW YORK — A brief but vicious storm that churned through New York City left a 14-mile path of destruction from Brooklyn to Queens, toppling trees, peeling away roofs and killing a woman in a car who had just swapped seats with her husband.
The National Weather Service on Friday sought to determine whether the wind and rain that hit the previous evening was a tornado. City officials said the storm hopped across New York Harbor from Staten Island and barreled uninterrupted from Park Slope in Brooklyn all the way to the Bayside neighborhood in Queens.
Gov. David Paterson said he had asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help assess damage and help determine whether federal disaster funds can be requested.
The storm was part of a line that rippled across much of the Northeast before hitting New York City during the Thursday evening rush hour. It caught nearly everyone off guard, including commuters heading home and parents picking up children from after-school activities.
Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe estimated the storm destroyed more than 1,000 trees, snapping and scattering them. He said forestry experts were finding damage patterns consistent with twisting winds, rather than more typical sideways wind.
The storm also downed power lines and crushed vehicles, including a car in Queens where Aline Levakis and her husband, Billy, were parked. The Pennsylvania couple had just switched seats in the car, said a former business partner, Peter Markos. She was killed; he survived.
Earlier, at least two tornadoes were confirmed in Ohio, where storms flipped mobile homes, injured several people and damaged part of an Ohio State University campus. A small tornado also touched down in southern New Jersey, knocking over trees and damaging two houses.