My Encountering a Severe Thunderstorm in Newark, New Jersey

I happen to drive a school bus for a living. It was around 3 p.m., and I was dropping off my kids in different parts of Newark, New Jersey. There were earlier reports of some severe storms north of me, and I heard we might get some in our area today.

Looking towards the west, the clouds had thickened, and the cloud base turned into an ominous dark blue-gray. It looked like we were in for a violent thunderstorm. Little did I expect how violent.

I was listening to NPR (National Public Radio), on AM. Even though I didn't see any lightning flashes yet, I could hear the discharges crackling over the AM radio. The clouds grew even darker, and the wind picked up. Light drops of rain began to fall. I continued to drop off my kids, one by one.

The crackling began to increase in intensity on the radio, and I started to see lightning. It grew more numerous and more intense-many of the strikes being CGs. And then, the sky opened up.

It was as if someone had decided to move Niagra Falls over our area. It was a furious, driving rainstorm-with rain so intense that the visibility was near zero. Then, I heard something hammering on the body of the bus-it was pea-sized hail. Powerful winds buffeted my van. Lightning flashes lit the sky, loud peals of thunder cascading through my surroundings like an avalanche. Even though I had my wipers on at full speed, it was almost impossible to see.

I had two kids left. I was able to drop them off quickly, near the entrance to their homes. They went inside. The crackling on the AM radio was almost non-stop. Sometimes I'd see a lightning flash associated with the crackling-other times, there was no flash.

The storm knocked out power in some parts of Newark, and created extensive flooding. I saw one utility pole that had nearly been knocked over, and the street had been closed off.

Oh-no funnel clouds. :p But given how strong this cell was, seeing one wouldn't have surprised me.

It was a cool experience.

8)
 
I've lived in several parts of the country and the worst storms that I've encountered have been in PA/NJ.

I've seen 2 funnel clouds when I lived in Salem,NJ and was less than 20mi away from the F3 tornado that hit Limerick in 1994. I've also seen severe winter storms (1993, 1996), major flooding (June 1996), a few hurricanes, and several nor'easters.
 
I had just looked at the SPC storm reports for the day before reading this post and noted two severe reports from Newark Airport: a 60 mph gust and one of 62 mph 25 minutes later.

My late grandmother lived in Newark, and I lived there when I was a small child. I remember sitting on my father's lap on the front porch watching thunderstorms. There was a particularly violent one in July 1949 when I was 4 -- not much wind but lots of lightning then tons of rain. I later learned that Newark airport got over 3" in 2 hours, a record at the time. Another storm on April 29, 1950 (or 1951) produced continuous lightning in the cloud to the W and NW before passing off to the north with only a sprinkle. Much later I learned that this produced a tornado nearby to the NW.
 
I had just looked at the SPC storm reports for the day before reading this post and noted two severe reports from Newark Airport: a 60 mph gust and one of 62 mph 25 minutes later.

My late grandmother lived in Newark, and I lived there when I was a small child. I remember sitting on my father's lap on the front porch watching thunderstorms. There was a particularly violent one in July 1949 when I was 4 -- not much wind but lots of lightning then tons of rain. I later learned that Newark airport got over 3" in 2 hours, a record at the time. Another storm on April 29, 1950 (or 1951) produced continuous lightning in the cloud to the W and NW before passing off to the north with only a sprinkle. Much later I learned that this produced a tornado nearby to the NW.

62 mph sounds about right. Just before that violent rainstorm started, the winds really kicked up. The hail was also pretty relentless.

Even though I was driving through city streets (and slowly) the rain got so ferocious at times that I seriously considered pulling over at one point. It was very difficult to see at times-even though the wipers were at full blast.

We've had quite a few tornado watches in this area, but rarely any actual tornadoes.
 
Back
Top