SUNSET PARK - The National Weather service confirmed Wednesday that a tornado touched down in Bay Ridge and Sunset Park, contributing to a morning of wild weather in the area.
The National Weather Service said the storm was a tornado after an investigator assessed the damage in the two neighborhoods. Meteorologists believe the tornado had estimated wind speeds of 111 to 135 mph.
Brooklyn residents say they were awakened around 6 a.m. by the sound of blaring car alarms, thunder, loud winds and heavy rain.The storm ripped several trees out of the ground in Bay Ridge, causing them to topple onto parked cars. Officials say about 200 cars were damaged. Roofs were also ripped off homes and businesses; about 40 buildings were damaged.In addition to Bay Ridge and Sunset Park, the neighborhood of Kensington was also affected by torrential rain. Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a news conference about the storm at a satellite Office of Emergency Management post in Brooklyn.He confirmed one woman died on Staten Island when her car got stuck and another driver hit her. Bloomberg said the driver, who had a suspended license, was arrested. He also spoke about minor injuries sustained during the storm due to flying debris. The mayor warned about soaring temperatures following the storm, which reached the 90s. The city opened cooling centers for people without air conditioning.Subway service was back on track for the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and B trains by the evening rush hour. The R train was operating between 95th Street in Bay Ridge and the Ditmars Boulevard Station in Astoria, Queens. Earlier, flooding inundated city subway tunnels, prompting the MTA to advise straphangers to stay home.
Travel delays at John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia International Airport started to ease hours after the severe weather. Travelers experienced delays of up to 90 minutes at JFK and up to an hour at LaGuardia during the storm.
Con Edison said crews had restored power to several hundred Brooklyn customers by the evening.For the mayor's news conference on the severe weather, go to channel 612 on your digital iO cable box and select iO Extra.
Click here for footage of Mayor Bloomberg's weather news conferenceClick here for team coverage of transit problemsAP wire reports contributed to this story.