Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Severe Thunderstorm Watch Issued; 70 mph Winds Possible

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has now been issued for Orange County and most of the region this afternoon. National Weather Service forecasters report their confidence is growing that severe thunderstorms with tornadoes and supercells will impact the area.

The watch is in effect until 10:00pm tonight. “Scattered, damaging wind gusts to 70 mph are likely,” the watch states. Torrential rain is expected in some areas. Some supercells are possible, which are intense updrafts into the clouds that cause rotation and produce tornadoes.

A weaker round of storms moved through this morning and produced rotation over northern New Jersey.

The next round of storms, which are expected to be much more intense, are now beginning to develop. Strong are already moving into southern Orange County, but this is only the start.


  • Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base

  • Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base

  • Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift.

  • Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and cannot be seen.

  • Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder.


  • In a house with a basement: Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you. Head protection, such as a helmet, can also boost survivability.

  • In a house with no basement (apartment or dorm): Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or into an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down. Cover your head with your hands. If you have a metal bathtub, that may offer a shell of partial protection, but not plastic or fiberglass ones, which are easily penetrated by projectiles. Even in an interior room, cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris from the roof or ceiling. A helmet can offer some protection against head injury.

  • In a mobile or manufactured home: Get out beforehand. Even if your home is tied down, it is not as safe as an underground shelter or permanent, sturdy building. Go to a nearby permanent structure. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes.

  • In an office building, hospital, or nursing home: Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building. Stay on the lowest floor possible and remain away from glass. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.

  • In a shopping mall or large store: Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows.

  • In a car or truck: Vehicles are extremely risky in a tornado. There is no safe option when caught in a tornado in a car, just slightly less-dangerous ones. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or underground if possible. If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car quickly and stay out of the traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat, or other cushion if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.

  • In the open outdoors: If you cannot seek shelter inside a sturdy building and are stuck outdoors, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.

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