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NJ Tornadoes Aren’t Uncommon [AUDIO]

A tornado the size and magnitude of the one that rocked Oklahoma this week has never been seen in New Jersey, according to records and anecdotal accounts, but the Garden State is not immune to twisters.

Plenty have touched down; some caused damage and even death, while others barely made a mark.

Tornado that tore through Moore, Oklahoma
Tornado that tore through Moore, Oklahoma (BBC)

New Jersey State Climatologist David Robinson said there were seven recorded tornadoes in 2003.

Since 2000, eight of the years had at least one tornado. They all ranked in the F1-to-F3 range on the Fujita scale, meaning the highest winds blew anywhere from 65 to 135 miles per hour.

“We’ve probably not had worse than an F3 in New Jersey,” Robinson said. “The deadliest tornado to strike New Jersey went through New Brunswick in 1835.”

Robinson said New Jersey has seen only one tornado death since 1942.

“You’re much more likely, in a summer thunderstorm, to get killed or injured by lightning, flooding water, or by straight-line winds that can knock down a tree,” he added.

Still, it is not impossible for New Jersey to get a twister like this week’s in Oklahoma, where dozens of people died and winds hit up to 200 miles per hour. Similar-powered storms have been seen in states as close as North Carolina and Massachusetts.

A tornado is formed by a “perfect storm” of weather ingredients, and the key is instability in the air, according to Robinson. Those ingredients don’t line up as readily in New Jersey as they do in the central part of the country, which is the most tornado-prone area in the world.

Short-Lived Tornadoes in NJ

“Generally, tornadoes are up and down pretty quickly in New Jersey,” Robinson said. “Most of them are relatively short-lived, maybe five minutes.”

The F-5 tornado in Oklahoma wreaked havoc for 40 minutes Monday afternoon.

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