🌧️Very strong storms across North Jersey caused heavy damage

🌧️14,000 JCP&L customers were without power on Thursday

🌧️Residents said entire neighborhoods were blocked by fallen trees

WEST MILFORD — On the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend, residents of the Lakeside section of this municipality were stuck at home after fallen trees blocked multiple roads.

The damage was so severe, some wondered if it had been a tornado.

A line of thunderstorms rolled across New Jersey with a brief period of heavy rain and wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph in many areas, according to New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow.

Zarrow said that despite the damage there was no tornado involved.

Thousands of homes were left without power in the heat.

ALSO READ: Earthquake rumbles through New Jersey early Friday morning

Was it a tornado?

The National Weather Service said a microburst in Sussex County brought dime size hail and strong winds that brought down utility poles and trees along Route 94 around 7 a.m.

About 90 minutes later, another storm moved into Warren County and brought down trees in Phillipsburg with pea-to-dime-sized hail, according to the National Weather Service.

As the storm moved east, numerous large tree limbs were brought down in Alexandria in Hunterdon County. Trees in Rockaway in Morris County fell into power lines causing them to fall into the roadway near the Mt. Hope firehouse.

"There was no evidence of rotation, either on radar or in damage patterns, to suggest a tornado touched down — this was a straight-line wind and heavy rain event," Zarrow said.

A microburst is a sudden, localized downward gust of wind emanating from a thunderstorm, according to Zarrow.

"In other words, imagine a thunderstorm totally collapsing, and that entire column of air rapidly falling out of the sky and slamming into the ground. The result is some intense wind gusts spreading out in all directions," Zarrow said.

ALSO READ: NJ's Memorial Day Weekend Forecast: More good weather than bad

Fallen trees in the Lakeside section of West Milford
Fallen trees in the Lakeside section of West Milford (Karin Casole)

Power outages in the heat

Over 5,400 JCP&L customers were without power as of 10:15 a.m. Friday, mostly in Hunterdon County (Glen Gardner, Hampton and Lebanon Township) and scattered throughout Warren County. In the hours after the storm 14,000 customers were without power, according to the utility.

Additional crews were being brought in to assist with restoration estimated by 11 p.m. Friday in the most hard-hit areas, according to the utility's online outage map.

Fallen trees following strong storms in North Jersey
Fallen trees following strong storms in North Jersey (JCP&L)

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