First Alert Weather In-Depth: Tornado in Alexander

[anvplayer video=”5105485″ station=”998131″]

ALEXANDER, N.Y. (WHEC) — It is not often that we get a tornado in Western New York, but when it does happen, obviously it is big news.

An EF – 0 tornado with winds of 85 mph touched down in the Town of Alexander in Genesee County, which is about 30 miles to the southwest of Rochester.

Mike Fries is the Warning Coordinator Meteorologist for the National Weather Service and he explained to First Alert Meteorologist Glenn Johnson how they were notified about the tornado.

“We actually got a call from the emergency manager in Genesee County saying that they had some damage by the Alexander fire recreation hall in Genesee County," Fries said. "He was not really sure about [the extent of the damage], but that the damage corridor was pretty limited and linear [in the scope of the location]. So when we got that call, we assemble a team and go out there. We took a look at the radar data before we went out. So we knew what we were looking for.”

A weak tornado can still cause some significant damage and Fries explained how they determine the actual intensity of one of these tornadoes.

“We basically use engineering analysis of damage on the ground to help determine what the possible maximum wind speeds were in the tornado,” Fries said.

He is talking about the Enhanced Fujita Scale. This is the way they determine the rating on these tornadoes. As the number goes up on a scale from zero to five, the wind speeds really start to ratchet up. And of course, the damage will increase significantly. When you get to the EF-5 rating, it is catastrophic.

Nationally tornadoes, on average, numbers are well over 1,200 tornadoes. Right here in New York State, the number average number of tornadoes is down to 10. Obviously, one is too many and let’s hope that we do not see anything like this again anytime soon.