WALL — Despite a number of destroyed utility poles, trees and structures at an airport, the National Weather Service is "fairly confident" a tornado was not to blame.

A strong line of thunderstorms rolled through New Jersey on Halloween night, knocking out power to thousands. The southern Monmouth County area in Neptune Township and Wall was hit hard with winds of at least 60 mph, according to Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow.

Survey teams concluded that an EF2 tornado touched down near Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, west of Philadelphia. The tornado was on the ground for a half-mile and had a top wind of 120 mph.

A straight line wind of 110 mph in the Hartsville section of Warminster in Bucks County brought down several utility poles at their base and toppled trees onto houses.

In Monmouth, Route 34 is scheduled to be closed for a second day between Belmar Boulevard and Route 195 to replace 16 utility poles and two traffic signals that the storm brought down, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The roadway will need to be milled and paved to repair damaged asphalt. Wall police expected the road to reopen by Sunday morning.

Utility crews on Route 34 in Wall
Utility crews on Route 34 in Wall (Bud McCormick)

Rita Spader, the executive director of operations at the Monmouth Jet Center on Route 34 told the Asbury Park Press that the storm damaged or destroyed about three buildings but no hangars were affected and the airport was back to normal operations by late Friday morning.

Neptune Township's Special Operations Rescue said two houses on Iris Drive and Center Street were damaged by falling trees. No one was injured.

The National Weather Service will not send a survey team to check the damage.

"Based on all of the pictures we have seen from Wall, and the radar data, we are fairly confident the damage there was due to straight line winds," the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly said in a written statement.

The NWS said they have to focus their storm survey efforts "on locations where it is uncertain if the damage was tornadic or straight line winds."

A team will return to Madison where there was also a number of power outages and roads closed by fallen trees and utility poles.

"A tornado is a very specific weather phenomenon," Zarrow said. "It is a violently rotating column of air that flows from a thunderstorm cloud to the ground. Very small-scale, often a few hundred yards wide.

"A straight-line wind or microburst event (with no rotation) can be just as destructive. Even more so, in fact, since it may affect a larger area."

Zarrow said the area around the airport is wide open, meaning fewer trees and buildings that create friction to slow the wind.


Damage at Monmouth Jet Center in Wall
Damage at Monmouth Jet Center in Wall (Glendola Fire Company)
Uprooted tree in Neptune Township
Uprooted tree in Neptune Township (Neptune Twp Special Operations)
A crooked utiliy pole in Madison
A crooked utiliy pole in Madison (Borough of Madison)


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