NEW YORK – All over the city, witnesses compared stories of the destruction they saw — roofs peeled away, street signs uprooted, storefront windows blown out, thick tree trunks snapped in half, a parked van lifted a foot into the air.
So it came as no surprise when meteorologists determined late Friday that the storm that barreled across a large swath of Brooklyn and Queens a day earlier spawned two tornadoes and a fierce macroburst with wind speeds up to 125 mph.
What was surprising, meteorologists said, was that only one person died.
“It’s practically a miracle considering the population that was affected by this,” said Kyle Struckmann, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
The tornadoes were the ninth and 10th to hit New York City since 1950, according to the weather service.
One struck Brooklyn at 5:33 p.m. Thursday, with winds up to 80 mph, and carved its way northeast from the Park Slope section, Struckmann said. The second hit Queens at 5:42 p.m., with winds up to 100 mph, 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 a woman was killed, according to the National Weather Service. Aline Levakis 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, Peter Markos. Billy Levakis survived.