Monday, September 05, 2011

Tornado Touches Down Along NYS Thruway Near Amsterdam

Upstate New York isn't catching a break. After the devastating floods from Hurricane Irene, the area is caught in a cold front that is bringing up the remnants from Tropical Storm Lee.

Ahead of that, there's been some wicked weather, including this tornado, which crossed over the NYS Thruway near the Mohawk rest area in Amsterdam.

The EF-1 storm was caught by a storm chaser who had come from Kansas to watch for tornadoes along the East Coast:
cut a seven-mile path from Florida in Columbia County to Glenville in Schenectady County.

The storm with winds as high as 110 mph was on the ground for about 15 minutes starting around 5:20 p.m., grew to as much as half-mile wide and left the most destruction in the Cranesville section of the town of Amsterdam, the weather service said.

Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Dwight Schwabrow said "numerous" buildings -- including the Cranesville Volunteer Fire Department -- were damaged.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent State Police and other officials already assigned to Tropical Storm Irene to respond to the Cranesville damage. One National Guardsman from Utica said his unit was re-assigned from Irene clean up the tornado's aftermath.

"We probably had between 25 and 30 homes that were damaged in one fashion or another," Schwabrow said. As of 11:30 a.m., nearly 2,000 National Grid customers in Fulton and Montgomery counties were without power, with an additional 547 in Rensselaer County, 772 in Saratoga County and 276 in Schenectady County in the dark.

Weather Service meteorologists said the video evidence strongly suggested that it was a tornado, but the today's investigation should determine wind speed, direction and extent of the damage before a tornado is confirmed.

The tornado was captured by Rotterdam resident Lindsay Phillips, a storm chaser who has traveled to Kansas, South Dakota and Wyoming to catch fleeting glimpses of the destructive power of tornadoes.

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