Severe storms hit New York area; nightmare rail commute

- Powerful thunderstorms pummeled the New York region on Tuesday. Tornado Warnings and Watches were in effect in parts of New York and Connecticut for much of the afternoon but have now expired.

Trained weather spotters observed funnel clouds and a tornado near Eldred, a hamlet in Sullivan County, around 3:45 p.m. The National Weather Service has not confirmed if a tornado touched down.

The storms brought flooding rains, damaging winds, and hail to the area. Wind gusts knocked down dozens of trees and branches all over the tristate, according to storm reports compiled by the National Weather Service.

A tree fell on an SUV in Orange County, N.Y., killing a girl inside. Firefighters used power tools to cut her out of the vehicle.

All Metro-North Railroad service was suspended for a few hours because of downed trees on tracks. That created severe overcrowding at Grand Central Terminal.

"Couldn't have happened at a worse time—at the very, very beginning of rush hour," MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said. "We were getting reports during the day of wind upwards of 70 miles per hour."

Limited and delayed service was later restored, but thousands of commuters faced a nightmare evening trip home.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, and Sullivan Counties because of the storm damage. He ordered 125 members of the New York National Guard to deploy Wednesday morning to help communities with cleanup, traffic control, and other work.

A Flash Flood Watch is up for central and southern New Jersey.

A Small Craft Advisory is in effect for the Atlantic coastal waters of New Jersey until 2 a.m. Wednesday.

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