Tornado touches down at golf club, Montclair gets walloped by flooding streets
By LOUIS C. HOCHMAN
This story has been updated to reflect more information about flooding in Montclair.
The National Weather Service has confirmed a weak tornado touched down in the area of the Montclair Golf Club and Verona Park Thursday night, reaching wind speeds of 65 mph just before 6 p.m.
The tornado likely touched down in the club, which is located in West Orange, as it approached the eastern end of Hathaway Lane, just over the border into Verona, where it knocked down a large oak tree, the NWS said.
Between Hathaway Lane and Valhalla Way, three full trees and 10 to 20 large limbs were felled, the NWS said. A tree fell on a house on Sylvan Road as well, the NWS said.
"The tornado likely quickly dissipated as it moved into the northeast portion of Verona Park," an NWS alert said.
The estimated time of the tornado was just three minutes — between 5:54 and 5:57 p.m. It was categorized as an EF0 tornado, the weakest on the EF scale.
Montclair and surrounding areas had been under a tornado warning from about 6 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday. A tornado warning is considered more severe and urgent than a tornado watch. While a watch only indicates tornadoes are possible, a warning indicates a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.
Wild weather hit much of the state Thursday. NJ.com reports at least 35 homes in Long Beach Island were damaged when a suspected tornado hit that shore community. The NWS is also investigating reports of likely tornadoes in Toms River and Mercer County.
Throughout the evening, the area remained under a flash flood advisory — and several low-lying roads in Montclair quickly filled with water.
Montclair police reported responding to several homes where water was running inside, and in some cases flooding basements.
Vehicles got stuck on several roads — Valley Road; North Fullerton Avenue; the intersection of Clairemont Avenue and Pine Street; the intersection of Park Street and Essex Way; the intersection of Valley Road and Bruce Road; and at Watchung Plaza.
On Park Street and Bellevue Avenue, police responded to a report of a manhole cover washing away.
And a tree fell down across Tuxedo Road, police said.
"I worked in NYC all day ... came home to chaos," Joshua Crandall told Montclair Local Thursday evening.
At 7 p.m., he'd seen a vehicle trapped under the NJ Transit overpass at Watching Plaza.
"I grabbed dinner at Mr Dino's [on Watchung Avenue] ... and the water receded (and the rain stopped)," he said.
Victoria Polito has seen the same car as well.
"It was crazy out there this afternoon. All low points in town were flooded," she said. "Haven’t seen this in such a long time."
Edmond Francois saw a car stuck on North Fullerton Avenue near Renaissance by Rand Middle School.
He also captured video of flooding near Montclair High School, as the Second River overflowed.
As of about 7 p.m., flooding had shut down all lanes on both sides of Route 3 in the area of the Garden State Parkway, the state's 511nj.org reporting system said. That report had cleared by around 8:20 p.m.