Saturday, September 18, 2010

NWS Confirms Two Tornadoes Touched Down In New York City

Two tornadoes were confirmed to have hit New York City in the supercell of nasty weather that crossed through the region on Thursday afternoon. However, the strongest recorded wind speeds were the result of straight-line winds.

The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed the tornado hits based on damage patterns from the winds.
A team of investigators from the National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado rated at EF0, or the weakest on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, sliced a two-mile path through Park Slope with 80 mph winds beginning at 5:33 p.m.

About 10 minutes later, a more powerful tornado with 100 mph winds cut a swath of destruction four miles long through parts of Flushing, Bayside and Forest Hills, Queens. That storm felled a massive tree that crushed a Pennsylvania woman on the Grand Central Parkway as she sat in her car on the side of the road in Forest Hills hoping to wait out the worst.

The strongest event was a rare "macroburst" -- intense downdrafts wider than 2½ miles -- that lashed Forest Hills and Middle Village, with 125 mph winds at 5:40 p.m. The howling gusts left a path of devastation five miles wide and eight miles long.

"We were extremely fortunate that there were no more fatalities and extremely fortunate that there were no serious injuries," said Gary Conte, a spokesman for the National Weather Service, which looked at computer data, interviewed witnesses and had investigators fly over the city yesterday to make its tornado determination.
The tornado that tore through Queens was an EF1, but that paled in comparison to the macroburst, which not only brought 125 mph winds, but hit across a much wider and longer area.

The Daily News has a map showing the damage reports, and you can see how the damage spread from Staten Island across Brooklyn and into Queens where the most damage occurred in and around Forest Hills and Middle Village.

State officials aren't sure whether the storm damage will hit the $25 million threshold to obtain FEMA assistance despite the widespread damage and downed trees.

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