Severe thunderstorms rumbled across Massachusetts Wednesday afternoon, at one point prompting a tornado warning for areas on Boston’s North Shore.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning at 2:49 p.m., saying a thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was over Haverhill. The warning remained in effect until 3:15 p.m. as the storm moved through the area.

The weather service said spotters in the town of Newbury, West Newbury, and Newburyport had seen a funnel cloud.

The weather service also issued severe thunderstorm warnings for various areas in the state. The entire state is under a severe thunderstorm watch, effective until 9 p.m.


Scattered strong to severe storms are expected, with damaging wind and large hail being the primary threats, forecasters said.

“A few supercells can’t be ruled out and [we] will have to watch for potential rotating storms which could produce an isolated tornado,” forecasters said in an Internet post.

In Tyngsborough, the First Parish Church on Middlesex Road was hit by lightning at 2:04 p.m., Assistant Fire Chief Pat Sands said.

The building is under construction, and there were six workers inside at the time. The alarms went off, and they evacuated. Firefighters entered and found there was no fire or smoke, just structural damage. The building will be evaluated by the building commissioner.

Lightning also struck a tree on one of the town’s streets but did not damage a nearby home, Sand said.

In Methuen, Deputy Fire Chief Dan Donahue said, trees and branches came down on several streets, causing partial closures. A house was hit by lightning, and several streets were flooded with more than a foot of water.

The showers and thunderstorms are expected to linger until 10 p.m. and then slowly weaken through the rest of the night, forecasters said.

Temperatures Wednesday will reach the mid-80s, with winds of 5 to 10 miles per hour and gusts of up to 20 miles per hour in the afternoon.


Aside the from the possibility of showers and thunderstorms, Wednesday night will be mostly cloudy and humid, with lows in the lower 70s.

Thursday will be partly sunny with a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. It will be hotter, too, with highs reaching up to 90 degrees.

Thursday night will be mostly cloudy and less humid, with lows dipping into the mid-60s.

“As the cold front crosses the region, [we] will still see areas of showers and a few lingering thunderstorms, mainly near and south of the Mass Pike,” forecasters wrote.

Friday there will be a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms before 9 a.m., and then it will be mostly sunny and cooler, with highs in the upper 70s.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.