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Storm system that battered NYC spawned 2 tornadoes and macroburst, weather agency says

A woman took pictures of a tree-damaged car in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, N.Y., yesterday. A severe storm hit the metropolitan area Thursday evening. A woman took pictures of a tree-damaged car in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, N.Y., yesterday. A severe storm hit the metropolitan area Thursday evening. (Brendan Mcdermid/ Reuters)
Associated Press / September 18, 2010

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NEW YORK — The storm that churned through New York City spawned two destructive tornadoes and a fierce macroburst with wind speeds up to 125 miles per hour that barreled across a large swath of Brooklyn and Queens, authorities said yesterday.

The storm on Thursday evening toppled trees, peeled away roofs, and killed a woman in a car who had just swapped seats with her husband.

The fury of wind and rain that pummeled the area was New York City’s ninth and 10th tornado since 1950, the National Weather Service said last night.

One of the tornadoes struck Brooklyn at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday, with winds up to 80 miles per hour, and carved its way northeast from the Park Slope section. The second one hit Queens at about 5:45 p.m., with winds up to 100 miles per hour, traveling 4 miles from the Flushing section to a mile north of Bayside.

It was that second twister that snapped trees and scattered them like bowling pins, downing power lines and crushing vehicles, including a car in Queens where Iline Levakis was killed, according to the National Weather Service. She was in the parked car with her husband, Billy Levakis. The Pennsylvania couple had just switched seats in the car, said a former business partner.

But it was the macroburst that packed the biggest punch with its winds up to 125 miles per hour, said Brian Ciemnecki, a National Weather Service meteorologist. Stretching 8 miles long and 5 miles wide, the macroburst started in the Middle Village section of Queens and ended in Forest Hills. A macroburst is an intense gust of wind that pours down from a storm.

The storm was part of a line that rippled across much of the Northeast before completing its run in New York City.

Stunned residents sifted through the debris yesterday, and utility crews worked to restore power in blacked-out neighborhoods.

On a badly hit Brooklyn block of 1890s brownstones in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, the storm swept away parts of rooftops on at least six homes.