First Alert Weather In-Depth: Unusual tornado in New York State

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — When was the last time you personally observed a tornado in New York State?

Surely most of you have lived your entire life and have never witnessed a twister as it was happening. As a meteorologist, Glenn Johnson also has never seen a tornado in real time. The simple reason why is because it does not happen very often. In fact, you could say a tornado is rare for this part of the country. 

However, this past Monday the folks in central New York State had several tornados touch down. This tornadic activity was located from the southern tier all the way to communities north of Syracuse. However, the tornado that stands out the most was found at the Tug Hill Plateau and was highly unusual for its power and size.

Yearly statistics show that tornados only average 10 per year in New York State. The busiest month is usually July when the state will average 2.9 tornadoes. But the tornado in Lewis County (About 30 miles from Watertown) was highly unusual in terms of its magnitude.

In a survey of the damage area after the storm, the National Weather Service estimated that winds were near 140 mph, 700 yards in width and a path running for 16 miles. Judging by the damage pattern and using the Enhanced Fujita Scale, this particular tornado had a rating of an EF-3. Statistically, it is believed that only about five percent or less of the total tornados each year ever reach this intensity.

This is the kind of tornado that you usually only see in the middle of the country or the deep south, not here in New York State.