Severe storms packing 80 mph winds barrel across Philly region; more to come

(Screenshot via NBC10)

(Screenshot via NBC10)

A severe line of storms is screaming across the Philadelphia region right now, traveling at 90 mph, felling trees and power lines as it barrels through neighborhoods.

The National Weather Service is warning people to seek shelter to avoid being caught in the severe weather. The front line of the storm is currently moving through New Jersey.

A peak wind gust of 83 mph was clocked in Berks County, Pennsylvania, just before noon Wednesday. Another gust of 73 mph was recorded in Philadelphia’s Homlesburg section. Those winds match tropical storm levels.

There are reports of widespread building damage and power outages in all local counties, with more than 403,000 people without electricity.

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PECO reports 323,337 customers are without power right now. Most of the outages are in Montgomery and Chester counties, the utility said. In the Lehigh Valley, PPL reported 5,173 outages. PSE&G, which covers parts of South Jersey, reported 54,219 outages. Meanwhile, 21,016 AC Electric customers were without power, too.

The quick-moving storm whipped up winds that shook trees and knocked over outdoor furniture in Philadelphia. In the Andorra section of the city, rescue personnel were onsite after someone became trapped when a large tree fell onto a car near the intersection of Ridge and Manatawna avenues.

A falling branch also took down a power line and sparked a small fire next to parked cars in the Spruce Hill neighborhood.  Another fallen power line sparked a blaze near the intersection of Bryn Mawr and Highland avenues in Bala Cynwyd.

Drivers on Bucks Road, just east of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, were greeted to a strange sight when the wind lifted a trampoline off the ground and left it strewn on top of power lines

Drivers on Route 100 in Pottstown were dealt a road hazard when a tree there toppled onto the far right lane of the highway. A similar scene played out on the New Jersey turnpike north of Route 168.

Several crashes were being reported, as well.

In the westbound side of Interstate 76 near Girard Avenue, a collision had one lane blocked. On the eastbound Vine Street Expressway, another crash clogged traffic with all exit ramps closed. On southbound Interstate 95, an overturned tractor trailer was blocking flow near Exit 17.

Some protesters participating in demonstrations at Philadelphia’s City Hall braved the rain for some time as the storm moved in. NBC10’s Stephania Jimenez said the protesters were undeterred by the storm.

The atmosphere is ripe for another round of of severe storms as a cold front tries to move in this afternoon.

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