NWS Investigates Tornado That Leaves 60 People Homeless And Over 100 Properties Affected

National Weather Service Confirms Tornado In Mercer County, NJ

February 21, 2023

LAWRENCE, WEST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–Around 3:40 p.m. this afternoon (February 21, 2023) the National Weather Service, Mount Holly issued a Tornado Warning for a large portion of Mercer County with the warning stretching in to parts of Monmouth and Middlesex Counties.

Shortly after the Tornado Warning was issued Lawrence Township Police, EMS and Firefighters responded to Quakerbridge Road for a person reported trapped in a car with live wires on the vehicle. Upon arrival the person was able to exit the vehicle unharmed.

Firefighters were quickly diverted into Lawrence Square Village where several buildings were damaged and trees were down throughout the area. At least two dozen units were deemed uninhabitable by Township Officials in Lawrence Township. The Red Cross was called to set up a shelter.

Moments after Lawrence storm damage was reported West Windsor Police started receiving 9-1-1 calls about wires and trees down in the area of Edinburg Road and Conover Roads. Several trees were into homes and wires were down on several streets in the area.

The National Weather Service will be sending survey crews tomorrow to confirm any tornadic activity and a statement will be issued later in the day if indeed it was a tornado that hit the area.

West Windsor Police reported that at 3:44 p.m., numerous calls flooded the Communications Center of WWPD in regard to a significant weather event that was occurring.  The following has transpired: Road Closures (as listed below), Power Lines Down, Trees into Houses.  

     1)  Conover Road–Entire Stretch
     2)  Edinburg Road–From New Village to Old Trenton Road 
     3)  Village Road–From Old Trenton Road to Twp. Line (East Windsor Twp./Robbinsville Twp.)

**Approximately (10) houses damaged by fallen trees

The Emergency Operations Center has been opened.  Chief Garofalo, his command staff, and WW Dept. of Fire & Emergency Services have met.  Stations 43 & 44 have been going door to door to check on affected residences.  Officers have been assisting the community at large with the trees down, road closures, power lines down.  Assume all downed wires are live.  

     Dr. Aderhold, the Superintendent of West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional Schools has been in constant contact with Chief Garofalo.  All buses are accounted for and late buses are on schedule.  Assessments of affected school buildings are ongoing by Dr. Aderhold’s staff. 

     No injuries have been reported from this weather event in West Windsor Township.  Damage assessments are ongoing.  PSEG has staff on the scene.  JCPL has been contacted.  The WW Department of Public Works have been out in force to assist clearing the roadways of downed trees.  The Developments of Dutch Neck Estates (southern portion) and Jefferson Park have seen extensive activity from the event.  More updates to follow.

West Windsor Police Update:

 *Approximately 300 PSEG Customers have affected service
         *Approximately 100-500 JCPL Customers have affected service
**Most PSEG/JCPL Customers due to be restored by 12 am**

          *Roadways should be re-opened by approximately 12 am (exception:  Village Road from Old Trenton Road to South Lane to remain closed until approx. morning rush hour–plan accordingly).
          *No residences sustained structural damage.
          *Approximately (100) properties affected with damage of some sort from debris and/or fallen trees/branches.
          *No injuries were reported to any persons. 

      Chief Garofalo & Chief Lynch wanted to express their gratitude to the following who answered the call for action during this event:

WWPD Communications Center, Command Staff, Patrol Division, Drone Unit, Detective Bureau, & Traffic Unit
WW Division of Fire & Emergency Services
Stations 43/44 & Fire Police
WW Dept. of Public Works
WW Construction Office
American Red Cross
The Media
Community at Large

From Lawrence Township Police, Captain Joseph Lech IV:

At approximately 3:45 pm on February 21, 2023, Lawrence Township, located in Mercer County New Jersey, experienced a severe weather event through the center part of the Township. The areas affected are located along the Route 1 corridor. Hail, and high winds, caused extensive damage to the condominium complex of Lawrence Square Village, commercial buildings, and several vehicles.

The Lawrence Police Department responded to the events with the Lawrence Township Fire Departments and Emergency Services.

Trees were uprooted and knocked over. Utility lines were brought down, causing the closure of Route 1 in both directions, from Interstate 295 to Bakers Basin Road.  Downed trees also caused the closure of Quakerbridge Road, in both directions.  Approximately 60 residents have been displaced. The Red Cross is on scene as well as Volunteers of America, helping to find temporary housing for the displaced residents.

Police Departments and Fire Departments from surrounding agencies within Mercer County responded and assisted with the road closures and scene safety. The extent of the damage and any hazards will be better assessed in the daylight hours.  Residents are reminded to use extreme caution and stay away from any downed wires. Motorists are asked to avoid the area of Quakerbridge Road until the hazards can be addressed. No injuries were reported as a result of the storm damage.

The National Weather Service has been contacted. They are aware of a weather event that entered the Lawrence Township area and they are indicating that it was a possible tornado.

A better assessment may be done during daylight hours, to better define the event. 

Route 1 has been opened to traffic in both directions. Quakerbridge Road remains closed in both directions due to the trees across the road.

 Red Cross and Volunteers of America are on scene and providing assistance for displaced residents. Any resident seeking assistance should contact the Lawrence Police or 1-800 Red Cross.

Mercer County Park Commission:

A tornado touched down in the area of Village Road and Quakerbridge Road around 4 pm today. As seen in photos, it appears to have caused significant damage to homes in the area and to Mercer Oaks West golf course. Thankfully, there were no injuries to golfers or Park Commission staff, additionally there was no damage to buildings. We did however lose many trees primarily on the West course, and as many as 100 trees were downed by this storm.

Our tree crew will begin cleanup in the morning. For tomorrow, Mercer Oaks East course will be open for play, the West course will be closed and remain closed until the cleanup is complete. We expect that will take the remainder of the week and possibly into next week. Detailed information on course closings will be posted on our golf and county website.

We are getting reports from around the county of wind-related damage, downed trees and building damage. Our Mercer County road crews are en route to assist in local clean-ups, and I ask you to please stay off the roadways if possible. Attached is video of damage at Mercer Oaks golf course in West Windsor where thankfully, no one was injured. — Brian M. Hughes, County Executive

*Updates to come as available.

National Weather Service issued a Tornado Warning for the area at the time of the damage. National Weather Service Graphic

Screen grab of the Radar Now application showing the National Weather Service Tornado Warning Box at the time of the storm damage.

Here is a map highlighting where survey crews are expected to survey tomorrow. Details, determination, and any potential damage ratings will be updated late tomorrow via social media and the Public Information Statement on our website as more information becomes available.

The blue line represents the path of destruction from this weather event. From reporters on the ground the destruction starts near Lawrenc Square Village, goes though West Windsor and terminates at the East Windsor/Robbinsville border. Google Maps Image