Rare tornado hits Queens

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After surveying storm damage in New York City, the National Weather Service confirmed that Thursday evening's storms brought a tornado to Queens.

Members of the National Weather Service and New York City Emergency Management arrived in the College Point section of the borough at about 7 a.m. to examine the damage.

"What we did see last night was wind actually in a counter-clockwise motion in the atmosphere rotating up into the thunderstorm cloud," said Ross Dickman, the meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service's New York office. "And that's really what it took."

The tornado touched down at about 10:20 p.m. near Saint Fidelis Catholic Church in College Point, knocking down numerous trees and power lines. The tornado also peeled siding off houses along a path about three-quarters of a mile long and 100 yards wide.

"Once we got here, we made the determination OK, everything is kind of in a straight line or path," Dickman said. "And you could literally walk across the street and not see any damage whatsoever."

The tornado, with estimated wind speeds of 70 to 85 mph, strengthened as it moved towards Powell's Cove Park. At least 50 trees there fell in a narrow, convergent pattern, highly indicative of a tornado.

The tornado briefly moved along the southernmost shoreline of Powell's Cove and then dissipated over the far eastern end of the park just before reaching 138th Street, weather authorities said. Additional straight-line wind damage occurred from that point eastward to the Francis Lewis Park near the Bronx– Whitestone Bridge.

A tree limb hit a man but he was not hurt. No other injuries were reported.

Con Edison reported that 60 customers in the storm's path lost power.

The tornado was rated as an EF0 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, meaning it was considered a minor. EF0 tornados feature wind gusts up to 85 mph.

"But it is enough to produce damage like you see," Dickman said. "And all tornadoes are dangerous."