High winds, but no tornado, Weather Service says
The National Weather Service has said the high wind that uprooted trees, knocked down power lines and caused damage to the Deptford Mall during Tuesday night's storm was not an actual tornado.
According to Meteorologist Valerie Meola of the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, the storm produced "straight line" wind gusts of up to 85 miles per hour. The wind speeds were measured from Greenwich, NJ.
Townsquare Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said Wednesday that he was "hesitant to definitively say "tornado" here. He also agreed that the high straight-line winds "could be the culprit for those overturned vehicles, downed trees, and widespread power outage."
The National Weather Service sent a team to Gloucester County on Wednesday to determine if a tornado actually touched down during the storm.
Wind gusts of 70 miles per hour were recorded in Elmer, Little Egg Harbor, Long Beach Island and Medford. Powerful winds from the storm uprooted a 40-foot, 100-year-old tree on Woodbury-Turnersville Road according to a NWS observer. A telephone pole snapped in half causing a transformer to explode. In Deptford, strong winds ripped off part of the mall's exterior, blew out car windows and flipped another car onto its roof.
"The photos and videos on social media paint the picture of an incredibly powerful storm complex that just rocked South Jersey yesterday," Zarrow said of the storm that quickly moved through late Tuesday afternoon. "There was broad rotation within the storm that moved over Deptford and Medford and eventually Long Beach Township on LBI."
Toniann Antonelli and Patrick Lavery contributed to this report.