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Busy tornado season catches naive Easterners off guard

NEWARK, N.J.  — As a tornado bore down on the western edge of New Jersey, some residents prepared for the worst, while others were caught off guard, despite bulletins from meteorologists and extensive coverage by television and radio stations.

Marie Raffay was at a high school athletic awards banquet in Stanhope on Tuesday night with her husband and two sons when they and others noticed the sky darkening, accompanied by thunder and lightning.

“We figured it was a typical late afternoon storm,” Raffay said. “Then the windows got pushed in by the pressure. I said to another woman, ‘I don’t think we should be standing there.’”

One person in the group mentioned getting a tornado warning on his phone, said Raffay, a civil engineer, but others were unaware.

The nation has seen a surge in tornadoes this month, with Tuesday setting a record as the 12th consecutive day with at least eight reported. Some tornado warnings have edged into areas of the East Coast unaccustomed to such storms, where many people are not conditioned to hear or heed such alerts.