What was thought to be a violently windy thunderstorm that plowed through Brooklyn Wednesday morning turned out to be a weather event of historical proportions.
The National Weather Service confirmed Wednesday night that an EF1 tornado touched down in the Livingston-Randall Manor area of Staten Island before eventually becoming the EF2 that slammed into Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
During a 10-minute stretch around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday the twister skipped along a nine-mile path before zipping through the Verrazano Narrows and into Bay Ridge. The storm marked Brooklyn's first tornado since such weather events were recorded. Officials measured it to be an EF2 twister, characterized by winds of anywhere from 111 to 135 miles per hour.
Between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. a string of severe thunderstorms blew through the region, making for an incredible headache for morning commuters. Thousands of New Yorkers found themselves enduring hours of delays in the sweltering heat with subways shut down and vacant taxi cabs hard to come by.
A woman on Staten Island died in a car accident which officials say was a result of the horrible driving conditions. In Brooklyn, amazingly, only scattered minor injuries were reported.
Still, the tornado certainly rattled bones as well as bricks, especially in Bay Ridge.
"About 6:35 this morning it sounded like a freight train coming down the driveway. The house was shaking and people were screaming," said Linda Mantia, who lives in the Bay Ridge section.
"I just wanted to lay down and die," Brooklyn resident May Johnson told CBS 2.
Eric Casanova couldn't believe what he saw out his window. "I looked out my window and the trees looked like dandelions. They were flowing all over the place," he said. "They say you get 15 minutes of fame, here in Bay Ridge it's 15 minutes of history."
Not only was the tornado the first ever in recorded history to touch down in Brooklyn, it's also was the first to hit a New York City borough since 1995, when a twister struck Staten Island.
Outside of those two, there have been only two other tornadoes to strike New York City. The first touched down in Queens in 1985 and the second in Staten Island in 1990.
Record-keeping of tornadoes began nationwide in 1950.