About 500 homes in Ocean City are without power on Saturday morning after a line of powerful thunderstorms swept across southern New Jersey shortly after midnight on Saturday.
Atlantic City Electric is reporting 168,378 power outages in the region, and Atlantic County has issued a state of emergency, asking motorists to stay off the roads as crews work to restore electricity and remove debris.
The traffic light at the Somers Point end of the Route 52 causeway has no power on Saturday morning, and police are directing traffic. Shore Road on the mainland is backed up from Somers Point to Northfield with cars diverted from other roads.
Trees, branches, and electrical poles and wires could be seen downed on Saturday morning throughout Northfield, Linwood and Somers Point, with damage to houses and cars spread throughout the area. Traffic lights down Route 9 in Northfield were out on Saturday morning, and traffic moved slowly heading south.
Ocean City on Saturday morning appears to have escaped the worst of the storm. The island was not hit as hard as some Atlantic County towns, where a wide swath of fallen trees has crushed cars, blocked roads and damaged houses.
NBC40 meteorologist Dan Skeldon said the thunderstorms were the strongest he's seen in his eight years covering southern New Jersey. Straight-line wind gusts of 60 to 80 mph were measured in a widespread area throughout the region. "Worse than anything from Irene," Skeldon said in a Facebook update.
Capt. Scott Goucher of the Ocean City Fire Department said on Saturday that during the course of the storm the fire department responded to approximately 20 calls, mostly for downed wires on the North end of Ocean City.
Additional storms may hit the area on Saturday night, with a 30 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms predicted starting from 8 p.m. and persisting until 5 a.m. in Ocean City, according to Weather.com.
Skeldon said on Saturday that if storms do hit on Saturday night, they will be "nothing like what we just saw," which he called a "once in a generation type event."
"We have a risk of some severe weather, but there will be some hit or miss scattered thunderstorms," he said. "I don't think we'll be able to compare the two events."
This story is developing. Check back for updates. If you have reports of damage, please share them in the comments.