High winds also caused damage in upstate New York, according to reports.
According to media reports, the storms were part of a system that moved east from the Great Plains, where four people were killed in Oklahoma on Friday.
The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down Saturday morning in Queens as a line of strong thunderstorms moved through New York City, after radar detected a “strong rotation” in a band of severe weather sweeping across neighborhoods that included Kennedy and La Guardia airports.
The general manager of the Breezy Point Surf Club said the storm ripped up cabanas along the beach and picked up industrial-sized metal trash bins, Associated Press reported.
Some of the bins were thrown hundreds of feet. On television, witnesses said the wind sounded like a train but lasted only a short time.
Nearby homes lost roofs as the storm cut a path through a nearby neighborhood, the New York Times reported.
Tornadoes in New York City are “very rare,” occurring once every couple of years, said John Wilson, a meteorologist with the New York state emergency management service. New York state averages seven to 10 tornadoes per year but is already above that average range in 2012.
Tennis fans watching the U.S. Open tournament, being played in Queens, on television had a glimpse into the New York area’s extreme weather.
The women’s final between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka had already been postponed until Sunday because of rain in the forecast when a wind-tossed men’s semifinal between Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer was halted in its first set.
Just moments before the start of that match, Andy Murray had advanced — under bright sunshine — to the men’s final with a semifinal victory over Tomas Berdych.
The Djokovic-Ferrer semifinal is slated to resume at approximately 11 a.m. Eastern time Sunday, a tournament official told CBS.
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