Two tornadoes touched down in Howell early Saturday, uprooting numerous trees, pushing cars into each other and ripping away part of a bank roof, according to the National Weather Service.
Extreme weather first hit at 7:21 a.m. with another twister reported six minutes later, a report from the weather service said. Maximum wind speeds reached 75 miles per hour.
Officials confirmed the high winds were caused by a tornado after surveying damage in the area, where they found large trees uprooted and damage to businesses. Some of the most significant destruction was reported were the storm touched down at a shopping center that included a Home Depot store.
“A video posted on social media captured the tornado as it moved southeast through the Home Depot parking lot,” the weather service said. “In the same shopping center, metal roofing from a Chase Bank was torn and later found a half mile away.”
The weather service report also noted damage near the southbound Route 9 jug handle and West Farms Road, where the tornado tracked southeast, and near Ideal Plaza.
“The Ideal Plaza and Home Depot received considerable damage,” Howell police said on Facebook.
“A large metal container for clothing donations was knocked over. Three cars that were parked in the shopping center parking lot at the time the tornado moved through were pushed into each other,” the weather service said in a statement.
Radar and storm survey evidence showed the tornado tracked southeast to the southbound side of Route 9 for a half mile and was on the ground for less than two minutes, according to the weather service.
Only minutes later, the second tornado hit 3.5 miles east-southeast from the first storm scene. The later storm traveled through Oak Glen Park, where high winds snapped a large tree and tossed around metal trash bins, according to the weather service report.
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“On the other side of the soccer field, numerous hardwood trees were uprooted, falling to the northeast,” the report added. “There were additional downed trees in the park as the storm moved southeast before quickly dissipating.”
The National Weather Service had already posted a tornado warning for sections of Camden, Gloucester, Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Middlesex counties Saturday morning.
There were no injuries from the fast-moving storms, according to the weather agency and local police.
In another early Saturday storm, forecasters said a microburst caused damage in Burlington County.