The National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, New Jersey, responsible for the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area, has confirmed that two tornadoes touched down on Friday as severe thunderstorms rolled through the Mid Atlantic. One tornado hit west of Philadelphia in Caln Township, Pennsylvania, while the other hit east of Philadelphia in New Jersey in Pemberton Township. While damage was observed at each tornado touch-down, no injuries or deaths were reported from Friday’s storms in the northeast.
The first tornado to be confirmed struck in Burlington Township, New Jersey near Southampton and Pemberton. An EF-0 tornado began in Southampton Township near Burrs Mill Road south of Ongs Hat Road where some minor tree damage occurred to a few properties. The tornado continued east through a sparsely populated area and crossed Ongs Hat Road and Stockton Bridge Road where some additional minor tree damage occurred. According to the National Weather Service’s storm survey, a tree was found uprooted, having fallen toward the west on Stockton Bridge Road; this was the area where the tornado reached its maximum width of about 200 yards. A tree was uprooted at a residence on Ongs Hat Road, then the tornado moved into a wooded wetland where more minor tree damage and downed limbs were found in a nature preserve along Jade Run. The tornado continued east crossing Magnolia Road where several large tree limbs were down and a softwood tree uprooted. The tornado crossed the road and continued eastward, largely paralleling Sheep Pen Hill Road. The tornado uprooted a few trees and downed several large tree limbs along the edge of the wooded area to the north of the road and a large blueberry field to the south. A tree fell onto a power line near the bend in the road, then the tornado dissipated as it moved through another blueberry field and into a wooded area.
The New Jersey tornado hit at 1:01 pm on Friday. It traveled 3.4 miles and had a maximum width of 200 yards. Estimated peak winds were at 80 mph inside the tornado.
The second tornado to be confirmed actually hit before the first on Friday. At 11:10 am, an EF-1 rated tornado struck West Caln Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania west of Philadelphia. The tornado had estimated peak winds of 105 mph and traveled 1.8 miles; it had a maximum width of 250 yards.
The Pennsylvania tornado began in West Caln Township near Baldwin Road where a hardwood tree was uprooted and found hanging on top of downed wires. South of there, between Baldwin Road and Chantry Lane, another hardwood
tree was found snapped at its trunk; this was the area that the tornado reached its maximum width of approximately 250 yards. The tornado then continued eastward with tree and wire damage seen on North Sandy Hill Road near Wallace Lane where a tree and large limbs fell on and damaged a wooden fence. Continuing further east, a row of hardwood trees was severely damaged with snapped trunks on Martins Corner Road just north of Wagontown Road. A utility pole was also snapped here, but this appeared to have been caused by the falling trees and the strain introduced to the wires since the pole may have been weakened by age. The tornado then dissipated as there was no concentrated damage found east of Martins Corner Road.
The National Weather Service also evaluated additional damage in the area which was separate from this confirmed tornado path; they said the other damage appeared to be caused by straight line winds. This includes tree damage in the Hidden Acres Campground on the northwest side of Baldwin Road.
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.
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.