Severe Storms Wallop South Jersey, No Confirmation of Tornado


A string of severe thunderstorms has left some 86,000 PSE&G customers throughout South Jersey without power, possibly until Thursday afternoon.

By Matt Skoufalos 

Downed tree in Haddon Twp. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Downed tree in Haddon Twp. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

For about thirty to forty minutes on Tuesday evening, South Jersey was battered by a brief but intense storm system that uprooted trees, tore down power lines, and left some 86,000 customers wondering if their electricity will be restored any earlier than Thursday afternoon.

The destruction darkened blocks of businesses along major arteries like Cuthbert Boulevard and Haddon Avenue.

Collingswood’s “Restaurant Row” was mostly defunct right around dinner time, and Haddon Township pub The Irish Mile was without power shortly after happy hour. Fallen trees pulled down transmission wires, blocking off residential throughways and side streets alike.

Power outage in Collingswood. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Power outage in Collingswood. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Yet despite storm warnings of a tornado and repurposed photographs of the twister that struck Oklahoma making the rounds on Twitter, the National Weather Service [NWS] in Mount Holly, NJ could not confirm that the region was hit by a tornado.

“At this point much of the damage appears to be a result of straight line winds from a line of severe thunderstorms,” Lead Forecaster Sarah Johnson said.

“As we have more time, we’ll review pictures of the damage and the funnel cloud reports that we received.”

Johnson said that severe storms are not uncommon in the region, recalling the derecho of June 29, 2012 as “probably one of the most memorable events with straight-line wind damage.

“It’s still too early to say how this event compares to the derecho,” she said. “We will definitely be reviewing the radar data over the next several days to see what we can learn from this event for future events.”

The severe weather season in South Jersey will be at its peak until mid-July, Johnson said.

Downed tree on Haddon Ave. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Downed tree on Haddon Ave. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Substations out of service

An estimated 85,865 customers were without power Tuesday night due to wind gusts that felled trees and power lines in Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester Counties, according to PSE&G spokesman John Masi.

“Lines feeding substations in Maple Shade, Southampton, Medford, and Collingswood were damaged, causing those stations to be out of service, and accounting for about 35,000 of the total outages,” Masi wrote in an e-mail briefing.

PSE&G crews from throughout northern and central New Jersey will be working overnight to repair the system and restore service throughout South Jersey, he said.

“At this time, total restoration for these customers is estimated to be on Thursday,” Masi said.

Customers may report downed wires or power outages to PSE&G at 1-800-436-PSEG. The Outage Map offers approximate timelines on service restoration for customers throughout the region.

Stranded PATCO riders in Collingswood. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Stranded PATCO riders in Collingswood. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

No Speedline service Wednesday morning

Another casualty of the storm is the PATCO Hi-Speedline, which ceased operations Tuesday evening and is not expected to resume them for the Wednesday morning commute.

“PSE&G has advised power will not be restored until at least after mid-morning on Wednesday,” the transit corporation noted on its website.

Instead, PATCO Freedom card and ticket holders can use their passes to travel via NJ Transit buses.

NJ Transit, in turn, advised that buses were running at least 60 minutes late Tuesday evening due to “extreme weather and road conditions,” and that NJ Transit train service from Philadelphia-to-Atlantic City trains would be out of operation Wednesday.

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