Possible tornado rips through Lawrence and West Windsor

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Trees were uprooted, power lines were knocked down, houses were damaged and roads were closed in Lawrence and West Windsor townships after a suspected tornado or straight line wind storm raced through two townships around 4 p.m. Feb. 21, according to officials.

The National Weather Service was contacted and indicated that it was a possible tornado, officials said.

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The first calls about a severe weather event were reported to the Lawrence and West Windsor police departments at approximately 3:45 p.m., officials said. Numerous calls flooded the West Windsor Police Department’s communications center.

A NIXLE alert issued by the West Windsor Police Department at 3:46 p.m. urged residents on Edinburg Road and Conover Road to take cover because of a possible tornado.

About 100 properties were damaged by debris or fallen trees and branches in West Windsor, but no residences suffered structural damage, police said. There were no reported injuries.

Volunteer firefighters from the Princeton Junction Volunteer Fire Company and the West Windsor Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 went door to door to check on affected houses, police said.

Several roads in West Windsor were closed because of downed trees and wires. The entire length of Conover Road and portions of Edinburg Road and Village Road were closed, police said.

Downed power lines affected about 300 PSE&G customers and between 100 and 500 JCP&L customers, police said. Power to most of the customers was expected to be restored by midnight Feb. 21.

In Lawrence Township, hail and high winds caused extensive damage to the Lawrence Square Village condominium complex off Quakerbridge Road, police said. Commercial buildings and vehicles also suffered damage.

Municipal Manager Kevin Nerwinski said 27 condominiums were declared to be uninhabitable, displacing about 75 to 100 people. The American Red Cross responded and assisted the residents in finding temporary housing, he said.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT

At Lawrence Square Village, trees fell down across sidewalks and parking lots, according to a video posted on the Lawrence Township Police Department’s Facebook page.

The video showed at least one tree that fell against a building, and a section of vinyl siding ripped off another building. Children’s bicycles were tossed in a heap on the muddy ground. A stop sign was flattened on the ground.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT

Fallen trees blocked Quakerbridge Road between Village Road and Hughes Drive, but the road was expected to be reopened by morning, officials said. Crews from the Mercer County Department of Transportation were sent to clear the road.

Downed wires also closed Route 1 in both directions, between I-295 and Bakers Basin Road, but the highway was reopened after a short time, according to the Lawrence Township Police Department.

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