Confirmed tornado in Mercer County displaces residents, causes serious property damage

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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 tornado raced through the area at 4 p.m. Feb. 21, according to officials.

The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed the tornado on Feb. 22.

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Estimated peak wind was 110-115 miles per hour (mph). The estimated sustained wind was 105-115 mph. On the Enhanced Fujita Scale classification of tornadoes, it was EF-2 (strong, 111-135 mph winds). Categories range from EF-0 to EF-5.

The tornado started or was reported in Lawrence at 3:35 p.m. and ended in West Windsor at 3:41 p.m. It had a path of 5.8 miles long by 200 yards wide.

Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes said he met with officials of the NWS on Feb. 22.

“Fortunately, no injuries were reported despite the serious damage to homes, buildings, cars and landscape, including at our Mercer Oaks golf course,” Hughes said in a social media post.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MERCER COUNTY

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.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MERCER COUNTY
PHOTO COURTESY OF MERCER COUNTY
PHOTO COURTESY OF MERCER COUNTY

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.

A continuous path of tree damage was observed near Lawrence Station Road, particularly in a housing development along Fountayne Lane. Additional tree damage and damage to roofing occurred at Lawrence Square Village condo development.

In a straight line from the damage at Lawrence Square Village, there was roofing damage to a residence and a commercial building as well as additional tree damage along Quakerbridge Road. Tree damage continued at a park across the street and through the 2nd and 11th holes at the county Mercer Oaks golf course in West Windsor Township.

Additional sporadic tree damage occurred in residential areas east of the golf course. The last tree damage was observed near the intersection of Old Trenton Road and Village Road.

Lawrence Township 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

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