Monday, October 15, 2007

Westchester Tornado

I thought I had posted this a long time ago. This is based on the Wikipedia article Westchester Tornado...

The Westchester Tornado was an F2 tornado that touched down in central Westchester County, New York at around 4:00 p.m. EST on July 12, 2006 with winds that at times exceeded 150 miles per hour. The tornado may have began on the Rockland County shore of the Hudson River, moving at 25 mph across the river toward Sleepy Hollow, just north of the Tappan Zee Bridge. It began to cut a 200 to 300 yard wide path straight across Westchester and into Fairfield County, Connecticut. While no deaths were reported, it is very rare for F2 or greater tornadoes to strike the New York Metropolitan Area, due to tornadoes being rare on the Eastern Seaboard. Enough damage occurred to cause an appeal for FEMA funding.

On July 12, 2006 a strong south westerly wind on the surface acted in conjunction with a strong upper level jet to cause conditions to become ripe. The tornado spawned as a waterspout over the Hudson River in the southwest quadrant of the storm and traveled in the northeast direction, something that is distinctive with most tornado causing thunderstorms. Once it reached the Westchester side of the river it became a tornado and roared up Beekman Ave., one of the main streets of Sleepy Hollow. The tornado reached F-2 status as it crossed over the Sleepy Hollow village line into Hawthorne. From there it tore across Hawthorne, New York, destroying a California Closets office and warehouse. It then proceeded up Stevens Ave. and crossed into Valhalla, New York inflicting much damage. It finally crossed the Kensico Reservoir and caused slight damage in Greenwich, CT before going out to the Long Island Sound.

The tornado left much of Hawthorne and Valhalla without power and many streets were covered with trees for much of the next few days. Power was restored to most of the area within the next two or three days, with some areas regaining power within the next week.

The article says the tornado "may have begun" in Rockland County, but there was documented damage in Grandview, on the Rockland side of the Hudson River, before the waterspout crossed the Hudson and became a tornado again in Sleepy Hollow. It picked up a New York State trooper’s car while he was driving along the Sprain Brook Parkway, dropped it, picked it up again, and dropped it a second time. The trooper was bruised a bit and spent a couple days in the hospital; the car, though, was totaled, since the first drop was nose-first.

But before it reached the area of the Sprain Brook, it tore through the area of Tarrytown Lakes, near the former Rockefeller estate. There are new houses that were recently built in wooded areas that had for decades, maybe centuries, been natural growth. I have to admit wanting to see that some damage had been done (without hurting anyone) to send a message that it's better to leave nature alone, that not all "progress" is actually progress. But, alas, though there were downed trees all around the area, none of the houses appeared to be damaged.

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