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2 tornadoes touch down in NYC neighborhoods

A tornado is seen touching down in New York City on Saturday.

Updated at 7:50 p.m. ET: Two tornadoes touched down in New York City late Saturday morning, one in Queens and another in Brooklyn, causing damage and frightening startled residents.

Two possible tornadoes also were reported later Saturday in the Washington, D.C., area as strong winds and heavy rains plowed through the area, leaving tens of thousands without electricity as a severe weather cold front spanned much of the East Coast.

An EF0 tornado made landfall in the Breezy Point section of the Rockaway peninsula in Queens at approximately 11 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. The 70 mile per hour winds hurled sand and debris in the air, downed multiple trees and power lines, moved cars and damaged property.


About five minutes later, an EF1 tornado touched down in Canarsie, Brooklyn, the National Weather Service confirmed. The 110 mile per hour winds leveled trees and power lines and damaged homes.

No injuries were reported from either tornado.

Videos taken by bystanders showed a funnel cloud hurling sand and debris in the air, and possibly small pieces of buildings, as it moved through the Breezy Point section of the Rockaway peninsula in Queens.

In Canarsie, where the tornado ripped off parts of roofs, Terrill Baden struggled to close his front door as the twister rolled in.

"The wind was very stong," Baden said. "It was raining. A lot of debris was flying around."

Linda Beal-Benigno was driving on the Belt Parkway near the Flatbush exit when she said a tornado traveled across the road.

"At first I though it was dark smoke," she told NBCNewYork.com. "The entire belt felt like it was shaking. It was very frightening because you could see the funnel traveling and moving. It crossed the highway and just missed cars."

She added, "I never saw anything like that in my life."

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courtesy Caitlin Walsh

Debris strewn near the tip of Breezy Point, at the Breezy Point Surf Club.

Thomas Sullivan, general manager of the Breezy Point Surf Club, said the twister ripped up cabanas and deck chairs.

"A lot of rain, a lot of wind," he said. "It picked up picnic benches. It picked up Dumpsters."

"It was crazy," neighborhood resident Joseph Mure told The Associated Press. He said he was in the shower when the storm hit, and went outside to snap a picture of the retreating funnel. "There were a lot of sirens going off. You could see it twisting."

Near the nation's capital, tornado-like funnel clouds were reported Saturday afternoon in Chantilly, in Fairfax County, and in Prince George's County, Md. The weather service hadn't confirmed the reports as tornadoes by early Saturday evening.

NBC Learn explains how tornadoes form. 

Fairfax County officials said that a tornado was on the ground shortly before 4 p.m. Saturday. They reported three home cave-ins because of downed trees, a water rescue in the Potomac River and dozens of down electrical wires, Dan Schmidt, a fire department spokesman, told the Associated Press.

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There were also reports of malfunctioning traffic lights and downed trees and power lines in the area as thunder, heavy rains and winds approaching 60 mph struck the region.

Emergency officials were attending to about a dozen people who were injured during a panicked rush for the exit at the Show Place Arena, hosting Prince George's County Fair, in Upper Marlboro, said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George's County fire and emergency management agency. About 400 to 500 people were in attendance at the arena, officials said. Twelve were evaluated for injuries and four were transported to hospitals, NBCWashington.com reported.

In the District of Coulmbia there were reports of about 10 downed trees, including one that came down on a southeast apartment building undergoing construction, NBCWashington.com reported.

Al Bello / Getty Images

Rain falls on center court in Arthur Ashe stadium to suspend play on Day 13 of the 2012 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

In Connecticut, strong line of storms left damage in Kent, Ridgefield and Northfield, NBCConnecticut.com reported.

Strong thunderstorms reached western Massachusetts Saturday evening, NBC station WWLP reported.

NBCNewYork.com's Matthew R. Warren and the Associated Press contributed to this report.