The National Weather Service in Mount Holly confirmed that two tornadoes struck in South Jersey as Tropical Storm Elsa barreled through the region Thursday night into Friday morning.
The tornadoes — in Woodbine, Cape May County, at 2:40 a.m. and in Little Egg Harbor, Ocean County, at 3:32 a.m. — both were rated as EF1 with peak winds between 86 and 110 mph. The lowest classification is EFO and the highest is EF5, which would have winds above 200 mph.
There were no reported fatalities, but there was damage to trees and property, including snapped power poles, with some debris being flung hundreds of feet.
Heavy rainfall and gusty winds in the Philadelphia region had tapered off quickly Friday morning and tropical storm warnings had been canceled for coastal New Jersey, but dangerous rip currents and rough seas were expected along the coastline through the evening.
In Ocean City, Kevin Corcoran, a local, said the storm barely registered.
“It was like a three,” he said, getting coffee at the Barefoot Cafe on West Street.
Multiple tornado warnings were issued Thursday night into early Friday morning in Philadelphia, South Jersey, and Delaware, including a 2:50 a.m. tornado warning for Ocean City, Somers Point, and Ventnor City.
Historically, direct hits by tropical systems have been infrequent in the Garden State, which runs parallel to most coastal storm tracks, as opposed to Long Island, or the southeast coast of North Carolina, which juts into the Atlantic.
“It is hard for New Jersey to get hit by tropical storms and hurricanes, given the orientation of the coastline,” said Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher with Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project.
Only once in the period of record, in 1903, did an actual hurricane make landfall in New Jersey, and in the 20th century, landfalls in the state by tropical systems occurred on average once every 20 years.
But three have occurred just in the last 13 years — Hannah in 2008; Irene in 2011; and Fay on July 10, 2020. Absent from that list would be Sandy, which technically was a “post tropical” cyclone.
Staff writer Anthony R. Wood contributed to this article.