Storms knock out power to tens of thousands from Plains to Northeast

Story highlights

  • Storms kill one in New York and one in Pennsylvania
  • More than 200,000 in Ohio, New Jersey and other states lose power
  • "Trees were bending sideways," a man in New Jersey says
  • National Weather Service reports possible tornado touchdowns in the Northeast
Hundreds of thousands lost power due to a potent storm system that extended eastward from the Plains toward the Northeast on Thursday, bringing with it high winds and destructive lightning.
Severe thunderstorm watches were in effect at one point Thursday evening for a continuous stretch from Oklahoma through New Jersey. The danger could lurk for several hours longer, with the National Weather Service issuing such warnings in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Kentucky, Virginia, Arkansas and other points in between.
Well before then, the system had already packed a punch.
In Pennsylvania, a tree crushed a woman in her car as she sought shelter at a campsite, killing her, said Glenn Dunn, the emergency management coordinator for Potter County.
A 61-year-old man in Brooklyn, New York, died after lightning struck a church sending a scaffold crashing down on him, authorities said.
Witnesses reported trees in the region buckling under the impact.
"The trees were bending sideways, (and) the sky just went really dark and green," said Mark Ventrini, a photographer, of the scene around 7:30 p.m. as he headed toward Belmar, New Jersey. "Some of the storms were pretty intense."
The weather service had received reports of possible tornadoes touching down in Elmira, New York, and Brookville, Pennsylvania.
Emergency managers in Broome County, New York, reported people trapped inside a home because of downed trees in the town of Vestal.
Strong storms also caused damage in Binghamton, New York, but the weather service said no injuries or fatalities have been reported.