The New York Times reported one Queens twister, with 70 mph winds, was just 50 feet across and stayed on the ground for about 600 feet as it came in off the ocean and hit a a beach club. The National Weather Service said another funnel cloud that touched down in Brooklyn's Canarsie neighborhood had 110 mph winds and stayed on the ground for about a half mile, the newspaper said.
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said no injuries had been reported.
David Dempsey, 49, of Chatham, N.J., who watched the Brooklyn tornado, said it was "kind of neat."
"I'd never seen one before. It was cool to watch it developing," he told the Times.
Diane Tye, who lives in Breezy Point on the Rockaway Peninsula in southern Queens, told the New York Daily News she saw a funnel cloud approaching.
"I saw a big gray cloud coming and ran to my basement with my son," Tye said. "It was very scary. People around here are freaked out."
The Times said dozens of people snapped photos of the Queens tornado, which witnesses said lasted for only minutes. Still, it was ferocious enough to tear roofs off houses and knock down power lines in the Rockaways, near Breezy Point, the newspaper said.
Helen Vesik, 58, said she saw the water spout head toward her at the Breezy Point Surf Club.
"I was afraid, and I knew I had to go," she said, adding she reached the main clubhouse as the tornado hit the club's pool.
She said the twister knocked down part of a concrete wall and had sent barbecue grills and beach chairs flying.
Severe storms in the region also delayed the U.S. Open.