NEW YORK — Two tornadoes struck the outer edges of New York City on Saturday, hurling debris into the air and knocking out power, but causing no serious injuries among startled residents accustomed to thinking of twisters as a Midwestern phenomenon.
Videos taken by bystanders showed a funnel cloud sucking up water, then sand, and then small pieces of buildings, as the first moved through the Breezy Point section of the Rockaway peninsula in Queens.
The second hit west, in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, also near the water, about seven minutes later. The National Weather Service said winds were up to 110 miles per hour, and several homes and trees were damaged.
Residents had advance notice. The weather service had issued a tornado warning for Queens and Brooklyn at around 10:40 a.m. The storm took people by surprise anyway when it struck about 20 minutes later.
"I was showing videos of tornadoes to my 4-year-old on my phone, and two minutes later, it hit," said Breezy Point neighborhood resident Peter Maloney. "Just like they always say, it sounded like a train."
The second tornado tore through parts of Brooklyn with strong winds, causing structural damage to several homes and felling trees.
Across New York state, in Buffalo, strong winds blew roofing off some buildings and sent bricks falling into the street.
The city of Albany canceled the evening portion of an outdoor jazz festival because of the threat of storms, and hundreds of upstate New York homes lost power.
The storm delayed play at the U.S. Open tennis tournament a few miles away. The women's final, scheduled for Saturday night, was postponed until today because of a forecast of rain. The second of two men's semifinals was suspended Saturday with David Ferrer leading Novak Djokovic 5-2 in the first set.
The storm system killed four people, including a child, in Oklahoma on Friday.
Storms hit Washington
Fierce rains and winds that exceeded 60 mph lashed the capital region Saturday, toppling trees and plunging temperatures from the 90s to the 60s. The storm lasted less than 20 minutes but left extensive damage, the Washington Post reported. By evening, 188,000 customers were without power. All of the area's most populous jurisdictions were affected — Fairfax, Prince William, Prince George's and Montgomery counties, as well as the District of Columbia. Among the hardest-hit jurisdictions was Alexandria, Va., where 30,000 customers lost power. Utility officials expected to have damage assessments today.