A powerful line of thunderstorms late Wednesday morning left as many as 200,000 utility customers without power on a day when temperatures were expected to climb as high as 90 in parts of South Jersey.

The storms moved east as fast as 90 mph, according a Thunderstorm Warning issued by the National Weather Service.

"We had the instability (heat), the moisture (humidity), and the spark (a weak front) - that's almost always a recipe for severe thunderstorms," New Jersey 101.5 chief meteorologist Dan Zarrow said.

"Today was also New Jersey's first 90-degree day of 2020, with several locations in the southwestern corner of the state hitting that mark. It will remain very warm and very humid through the start of the weekend. And we are facing a few more rounds of thunderstorms, too, although it will be hard to top Wednesday's destructive wind and heavy rain," Zarrow said.

Wind gusts of 89 mph and 87 mph were recorded in Beach Haven and Brick, respectively, according to the National Weather Service.

An image on Twitter posted by Storm Team 4 NY showed a flagpole had been knocked down in Point Pleasant.

The gusty winds also tore up the bleachers at the Allentown High School football field.

"Most importantly, no one was hurt. We are still assessing the damage, but the wind speeds must have been extreme. These bleachers are heavy," superintendent Mark Guterl told New Jersey 101.5 in an email.

Zarrow said the top wind gust at the Cream Ridge weather station, just a few miles away, was 57 mph. A gust of 67 mph was recorded in Columbus, Burlington County.

Fallen trees blocked Route 130 in Pennsauken Township, Route 47 in Westville and Route 168 in Bellmawr, according to New Jersey Fast Traffic.

Torn up bleachers at Allentown High School (Dennis Symons)

Outages as of 6:10 p.m.:

JCP&L:

• 43,187 customers, mostly in Burlington (Pemberton Twp), Hunterdon (East Amwell),  Mercer (Hopewell) Monmouth (Millstone, Upper Freehold), Ocean (Brick, Jackson, Lacey, Lakewood, Manchester, Ocean Gate, Plumsted, Toms River)

PSE&G:

• 100,045 customers, mostly in Burlington (Cinnaminson, Eastampton, Edgewater Park, Evesham, Lumberton, Palmyra, Pemberton Twp and Southampton),Camden (Camden, Cherry Hill, Haddon, Haddonfield), Gloucester (West Deptford) and Mercer (Ewing, Hamilton Hopewell, Lawrence)

Atlantic City Electric:

• 8,558 customers, mostly in Atlantic (Galloway), Burlington (Evesham), Camden (Berlin Boro, Berlin Twp and Voorhees), Gloucester (Glassboro) and Ocean (Stafford)

“PSE&G has sufficient crews available today and through the night to respond to any service interruptions that may occurs," Jack Bridges, PSE&G’s vice president for Electric Operations, said in a written statement.

123 tree trimming crews, including 280 FTEs, are on hand and responding to clear extensive tree damage from the storm.

The utility said that due to extensive damage in pocketed areas and continued high winds, restoration delays are expected but crews will work overnight.

JCP&L spokesman Cliff Cole said crews are working to restore power but he did know when repairs would be complete.

 

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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