The history of tornadoes in New York State

Updated: 07/10/2014 5:47 PM
Created: 07/10/2014 4:28 PM WHEC.com
By: Josh Nichols

Governor Andrew Cuomo is coming under fire for something he said during a visit to central New York. It all has to do with the recent deadly tornado that touched down east of Syracuse on Tuesday.

Governor Andrew Cuomo created a bit of controversy with some in what he said Wednesday in wake of the deadly Smithfield tornado.

Governor Cuomo said, “National Weather Service just confirmed that this was a tornado that went through Madison County. We don't get tornadoes in New York, right? Anyone will tell you that. Well we do now."

Defenders of Governor Cuomo claimed he meant to say that deadly tornadoes don’t happen very often in New York State, which is true. 

Either way to avoid any and all confusion, it is important to take a look at the facts on New York State's tornado climatology. While most tornadoes that hit our area are relatively week, our area is certainly no stranger to them. On July 25, 2009, a weak tornado rated an EF-0 hit the town of Hamlin. On that same day, a EF-1 tornado touched down in Corfu. There was also the Savannah tornado of August 22, 2011, which was rated an EF-2. Just last year on July 24, a week EF-0 struck the town of Hilton.

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center, which officially keeps track of tornado statistics for the nation, more than 400 tornadoes have been observed in New York State since records officially began in 1950. Most of them occurred in central and eastern New York. That means on average, six to seven tornadoes take place every year statewide, with 25% of all tornadoes happening in July. Most tornadoes in New York take place in July because of the jet stream pattern over the state, which makes for a favorable environment for thunderstorms to produce tornadoes.

Only one tornado has ever been recorded in Rochester and that occurred in the 1930’s. 

For a link to some tornado safety tips, click here.

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