The National Weather Service has confirmed that multiple tornadoes touched down yesterday evening across portions of New Jersey and Delaware. Unfortunately, one death was confirmed from a touch-down in Delaware. The National Weather Service’s Mount Holly, New Jersey office continues to survey storm damage in the region and expects to release final reports sometime on Monday. As of press time, the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado that touched down in Cinnaminson and crossed into Delran and Moorestown in Burlington County, New Jersey, another tornado in Sea Girt in Monmouth County, New Jersey, another tornado in Howell Township also in Monmouth County, another tornado in Jackson Township in Ocean County, New Jersey, and an additional tornado in Bridgeville in Sussex County, Delaware.
The National Weather Service is deploying crews in the region to map out the specifics around these tornadoes and to see if additional tornadoes formed during the intense thunderstorm activity last night.
With at least 4 tornadoes confirmed in New Jersey, New Jersey is off to an above-normal start of tornadic activity for the year. In February, an EF-2 tornado struck around Mercer County Park in central New Jersey, while a waterspout formed near Sea Girt.
Damage surveys continue in Maryland and Delaware from yesterday’s storms too.
For now, only one tornado has been confirmed in Delaware. A tornado touched down near Tucker Road in Greenwood, destroying many homes. A man died when the house he was in collapsed from the tornado. This death is the first death from a tornado in Delaware since 1983.
According to the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, the tornado cut a 14 mile path of destruction from Bridgeville to Ellendale with widespread damage reported throughout western Sussex County. Preliminary assessments show at least 2-3 dozen homes impacted by the tornado.
According to the NOAA, in the period from 1950 to June of 2022, there have been a total of 184 reported tornado touch-downs in New Jersey, responsible for 80 injuries, 1 death, and more than $84 million in property damage. In a typical year, New Jersey will see 2-3 tornadoes. However, while the overall volume of severe storms and tornadoes has trended down significantly across the entire United States, the opposite has been occurring in New Jersey. In 2019 10 tornadoes were recorded while in 2020 the number dropped to 4; however, the number rose again to 13 in 2021.
The National Weather Service has only confirmed the strength of one of yesterday’s tornado: the one that passed through Burlington County. According to a report released by the National Weather Service this evening, that tornado was an EF-1.
The Enhanced Fujita Scale or EF Scale, which became operational on February 1, 2007, is used to assign a tornado a ‘rating’ based on estimated wind speeds and related damage. When tornado-related damage is surveyed, it is compared to a list of Damage Indicators (DIs) and Degrees of Damage (DoD) which help estimate better the range of wind speeds the tornado likely produced. From that, a rating (from EF0 to EF5) is assigned. In general, EF-0 tornadoes have 65-85 mph winds, EF-1 have 86-110 mph winds, EF-2 have 111-135 mph winds, EF-3 have 136-165 mph winds, EF-4 have 166-200 mph winds, and EF-5 tornadoes have winds in excess of 200 mph. The EF Scale was revised from the original Fujita Scale to reflect better examinations of tornado damage surveys so as to align wind speeds more closely with associated storm damage., with the new scale related to how most structures are designed.
While tragic, the severe weather to strike New Jersey and Delaware was well warned. For several days, the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has highlighted the threat of severe weather expected in the region. On Friday, the SPC narrowed-down the threat zone into New Jersey and Delaware. On Saturday morning, the timing and impact zone was refined, with a Tornado Watch issued hours before impact across New Jersey and Delaware. All of the tornadic cells were included in Tornado Warnings that were issued by the National Weather Service as tornado signatures became evident on RADAR scans.