Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Major Severe Weather Outbreak
EF2 Florida to Schenectady Tornado, EF1 Summit to E. Jefferson Tornado,
EF1 Vischer Ferry Tornado

A major outbreak of severe thunderstorms produced three confirmed tornadoes, widespread damaging straight line wind, some severe hail, and exceptional rainfall rates which lead to considerable urban and poor drainage flooding and road and yard washouts (including mine in Clifton Park), along with frequent violent cloud to ground lightning between 5:30pm and 10 pm in eastern New York and western New England. The general area of severe weather extended from the Mohawk valley into the Capital Region, generally south of Saratoga Springs, to southern Bennington County in Vermont on south through Berkshire and Litchfield counties. Severe weather also was widespread in Otsego and Delaware counties, where several potential tornadoes occurred, as well as through Schoharie, Greene, and Columbia counties where considerable wind damage was reported. At the peak of the storms 61,000 National Grid customers in the region were thrown into the dark, with power not completely restored to all customers until early Friday morning May 31.

The Tornadoes

A large one mile wide tornado took seventeen minutes to travel from Florida, NY in Montgomery County where it formed to Schenectady in Schenectady County where it lifted. Peak winds are estimated to have reached 125 mph, EF2 status on the enhanced fujita tornado intensity scale. Significant damage to trees, roofs, and high tension poles resulted from the tornado with one injury as a barn collapsed. The tornado crossed the Thruway along Putnam Road in Rotterdam producing EF1 damage along Putnam Rd to just about Princetown Rd and then a mixture of EF0 to EF1 damage. The tornado endpoint was determined to be near the corner of Campbell Avenue and Broadway in Hillhurst Park in Schenectady.

NWS Storm Damage Survey Report
Estimated Time: 6:47pm to 7:04pm
Maximum EF Rating: EF2: Peak winds 125 mph
Estimated Path Width: 1 Mile
Estimated Path Length: 13 Miles from Florida, NY Montgomery County to Schenectady, NY Schenectady County
1 Injury No Fatalities

The second confirmed tornado was smaller, lasting five minutes in a brief touchdown in Schoharie County impacting Summit and East Jefferson. That storm was 200 yards wide and tracked for two miles with peak winds of 100 mph. Significant damage to trees occurred with this tornado. The storm briefly touched down along the ridge line seen from the juncture of Dutch Hill Rd. and Wharton Hollow road.. Dozens of trees were either blown down or sheared off. Significant tree damage was also observed along Enid Rd. and Peraglia Rd.

NWS Storm Damage Survey Report
Estimated Time: 6:57pm to 7:02pm
Maximum EF Rating: EF1: Peak winds 100 mph
Estimated Path Width: 200 Yards
Estimated Path Length: 1.6 Miles from Summit, NY to E. Jefferson, NY Schoharie County
No Injuries or Fatalities

The third confirmed tornado was also a smaller brief touchdown in Vischer Ferry in southern Saratoga County right along the Schenectady County line at 7:10pm. This tornado had peak winds of 100 mph in a 200 yard path width along a one mile path length. A roof on one home was partially blown off with a barn shifted off its foundation near the intersection of Riverview Rd and Willow Spring Drive along with approximately one hundred trees either sheared, snapped or uprooted.

NWS Storm Damage Survey Report
Estimated Time: 7:10pm
Maximum EF Rating: EF1: Peak winds 100 mph
Estimated Path Width: 200 Yards
Estimated Path Length: 1 Mile one mile south of Vischer Ferry, Saratoga County
No Injuries or Fatalities

Tornado Track Graphics: These track and intensity graphics for the three confirmed tornadoes were created by meteorologists at the Albany National Weather Service Forecast office using both ground observational data obtained from their damage surveys as well as Doppler radar data.
Albany, NWS tornado track map for the Florida to Rotterdam and Vischer Ferry tornadoes
Albany NWS tornado track map for the Schoharie County tornado

Albany Doppler Radar (ENX) base reflectivity and base velocity images from around 6:45pm. The left image is a classic text book hook echo signature in the reflectivity indicating a strongly rotating thunderstorm. The storm was either in the process of or already producing a tornado at this stage. The right image is the velocity display showing the rotational couplet. Red colors on this display indicate wind blowing away from the Albany radar site, located in Berne, Albany County, to the southeast of the storm. Green colors indicate rapid wind blowing towards the radar. The point where the velocities come together is the mesocyclone, or the parent circulation from which the tornado circulation formed.

Albany Doppler (ENX) base relectivity display showing a text book hook echo with the tornadic storm just south of Amsterdam, NY May 29, 2013 Albany Doppler (ENX) base velocity display showing the velocity couplet clearing illustrating the updraft circulation.  Red colors indicate wind blowin away from the Albany radar, green blowing toward the radar. May 29, 2013 

Set-Up

A warm front moved across the region through the morning preceded by clouds and periods of rain and thunder through 10am. Dewpoints climbed from the mid 50s prior to the frontal passage into the mid to high 60s through the afternoon with some intervals of sunshine breaking out across the region allowing temperatures to warm into the upper 70s to around 80°. Brighter skies developed over western and central New York through the afternoon where moderate instability was able to build up with CAPE values climbing to approximately 2000 j/kg (CAPE = convective available potential energy...the higher the value the more potential instability exists in the atmosphere to fuel thunderstorms) Meanwhile, over eastern New York and western New England CAPE values were considerably lower through the afternoon ranging up to 500 j/kg on average. Subsequently no thunderstorms formed after the initial rain exited the region during the morning.

The warm front ultimately stalled across the southern Adirondacks and just east of Bennington and Berkshire counties in western New England allowing for the surface wind in the major north south valleys of the local area (the Schoharie and Hudson valleys especially) to back more into the southeast, increasing the low level turning of the wind, thus increasing the overall shear and rotational potential in any tall thunderstorms that would either move into the region or develop. The stage was set for severe weather over the area providing enough instability either developed or moved into the region, which ultimately it did.

The true trigger for the event was an upper air disturbance (weak colder pocket of air aloft) which moved into the Northeast during the late afternoon and early evening, not the stalled warm front. It was along the leading edge of this upper air trough that a cluster of thunderstorms formed west of Syracuse near and to the south of the stalled warm frontal boundary where shear and instability were maximized. These storms rapidly intensified rotating, in some cases, becoming severe producing damaging wind in Syracuse and hail between quarter and ping pong ball sized on their trek down the Mohawk valley. Scattered thunderstorms also fired further south near Binghamton ultimately moving into Otsego county where funnel clouds were sighted as well as large hail and high wind between 5pm and 6pm.

Between 6pm and 6:30pm a well organized cluster of severe thunderstorms moved at around 40 mph through Fulton and Montgomery counties with an initially weak lead cell developing in advance of the main cluster. This weak cell rapidly intensified becoming the supercell which produced the Florida to Rotterdam tornado between 6:47pm and 7:00pm. Radar showed the storm developed very quickly going from not much to a tornado producing supercell in approximately fifteen minutes. And local terrain likely had quite a bit to do with the rapid intensification as the strongly backed flow out of the southeast coming out of the Schoharie valley likely dramatically increased the low level shear to enhance rotation within the large scale environment which was already conducive to rotating thunderstorms. This localized terrain effect of enhanced low level shear has occurred in the region on multiple occasions in the past likely contributing to the Cranesville EF1 tornado on September 4, 2011, the June 16, 2002 EF0 tornado in Florida as well as the Mechanicville/Stillwater EF3 tornado in 1998 among others.

The supercell was quickly overcome and absorbed by the complex of thunderstorms immediately to its west and ultimately developed into a compact damaging straight line wind producing mesoscale convective system (MCS) which moved across Rensselaer and Berkshire counties. As this evolution was occurring, however, the supercell rotation was maintained across southern Schenectady, northeast Albany and northern Rensselaer counties with the velocity couplet going over Niskayuna, Colonie, Latham, and Troy where multiple significant straight line wind damage occurred likely due to microbursting which is typical with areas of convective rotation. That compact circulation developed into a larger scale area of rotation, termed a rotating bookend vortex, which marked the northern portion of the MCS. The bow echo feature along and south of that bookend vortex produced widespread damaging wind into northern Berkshire County.

Another supercell thunderstorm over Schoharie County, which produced the brief tornado from Summit to E. Jefferson, evolved into a bowing structure which produced significant wind damage in eastern Greene, Columbia, southern Berkshire and northern Dutchess counties later in the event between 8pm and 8:30pm. Thunderstorms moved out of the Litchfield county between 10pm and 10:30pm completely ending the severe across the region.

In the end analysis, this was a fairly classic and seen before set-up for high end severe weather for this region for the time of the year.

STORM REPORTS May 29, 2013
Note: This report list does not include all of the damage which occurred across the region from the event, but rather only those reports which were reported to the NWS

Town County Storm Report Time
Fairfield Herkimer Measured 1" diameter hail, hail covered the ground 5:45-5:47pm
Dolgeville Herkimer Wind damage: Tree blown down at 36 Van Buren St. 5:59pm
Manheim Center Herkimer Wind damage: Wires blown down at 568 Bonner Rd. 5:59pm
Frankfort Center Herkimer Wind damage: Wires blown down on 5th Ave at Reese Road 6:07pm
Ilion Herkimer Wind damage: Tree blown down on a house at 208 E. River St. 6:08pm
Dolgeville Herkimer FLASH FLOOD: Route 167 and Snells Bush Road flooded and closed 6:12pm
Dolgeville Herkimer FLASH FLOOD: Multiple culverts washed out with 4"-5" of water on main Street 6:30pm
Milford Otsego Measured 1" diameter hail 6:37pm
2 Miles SW of Amsterdam Montgomery Major Wind Damage: Barn blown down with roof damage from trees 6:40pm
2 Miles S of Amsterdam Montgomery EF2 TORNADO: 1 injured Florida to Rotterdam, Major damage to trees, roofs, high tension towers 6:45pm-7:00pm
1 Mile S. Scotch Bush Schenectady TORNADO: Roof and barn damage and several trees down 6:47
1 Mile S. Mariaville Lake Schenectady TORNADO: EF2 Damage confirmed 6:52
Rotterdam Junction Schenectady Funnel cloud near intersection of Altamont Ave and Curry Rd 6:53
4 Mile S. of Summit Schoharie TORNADO: Significant tree damage (EF1) 6:57
Minaville Montgomery Wind damage: Tree down on Langley Rd. blocking and closing the road 7:00pm
Schoharie Schoharie Wind damage: Trees and wires down 7:02pm
Rotterdam Schenectady Wind damage: Trees and wires down 7:03pm
Summit to E. Jefferson Schoharie EF1 TORNADO: Significant damage to trees 7:05 to 7:10pm
Otego Otsego Measured 1" diameter hail 7:05pm
Schenectady Schenectady Major Wind Damage: Widespread tree and power line damage in the Bellevue and Woodlawn neighborhoods, State Street, Linda Lane, Balltown Rd. near Consaul Road, trees down on homes in many cases 7:05 to 7:07pm
Scotia Schenectady FLASH FLOOD: Heavy runoff flooding some roads 7:07pm
Niskayuna Schenectady Wind damage: 40' down on Pinecrest Avenue, many trees down along Valley Road 7:09pm
Guilderland Albany Wind damage: 2' diameter tree across Willow St. Just off Route 20 7:09pm
Colonie Albany Major Wind Damage: Many large trees snapped and uprooted including on Rt 9R between Cora Dive and St. Agnes, trees down on homes 7:10pm
1 Mile SE Vischer Ferry Saratoga TORNADO: EF1, a roof blown off home, barn moved off it's foundation, approximately 100 trees sheared, snapped or uprooted 7:10pm
Glenmont Albany Measured 60 mph wind gust 7:15pm
Schoharie Schoharie Wind damage: Trees and power lines down 7:24 pm
Latham Albany Multiple trees down, including a tree blocking Park Avenue 7:15pm
Colonie Albany Wind damage: Large tree down on a house 7:28pm
Jefferson Schoharie Wind damage: Trees and wires down 7:28pm
Clifton Park Saratoga Estimated 60 mph wind gust 7:30pm
Brunswick Rensselaer Wind damage: Numerous trees blown down 7:40pm
Halfmoon Clifton Park FLASH FLOOD: 1.5" of rain in 20 minutes, localized street flooding and yard washouts 7:40pm
Lanesborough, MA Berkshire Wind damage: Widespread trees down, winds estimated to 65 mph 7:51pm
Herkimer Herkimer FLASH FLOOD: Route 28 closed between Herkimer and Middleville due to a mudslide 7:57pm
Greenport Center Columbia Wind damage: Trees and wires down 8:05pm
Hudson Columbia Major Wind Damage: Partial building collapse, steeple broke off a church, many trees down 8:10pm
Greenport Center Columbia Wind damage: Multiple trees down 8:10pm
Bennington, VT Bennington FLASH FLOOD: South street closed in Bennington due to flooding 8:22pm
3 Miles NE of Adams, MA Berkshire FLASH FLOOD: Flash flooding on Church Street, manhole covers removed due to the water 8:31pm
North Adams, MA Berkshire FLASH FLOOD: State street impassable 8:39pm
North Canaan, CT Litchfield Wind damage: Two trees blown down 8:49pm
Pine Plains Dutchess Wind damage: Large tree blown down across Carpenter Hill Road, just off Route 83 8:55pm
Williamstown, MA Berkshire FLASH FLOOD: Route 43 impassable due to flash flooding 8:57pm
Delhi Delaware FLAHS FLOOD: Multiple ditch and culvert overflows and a small bridge inundation on County Route 18 9:00pm
Bennington, VT Bennington FLASH FLOOD: Flash flooding along North Branch St. 9:15pm
West Stockbridge, MA Berkshire FLASH FLOOD: Flash flooding along many city streets 9:15pm
Raymertown Rensselaer FLASH FLOOD: Multiple road washouts due to flash flooding 9:50pm
Pittstown Rensselaer FLASH FLOOD: Multiple road washouts 9:50pm
Raymertown Rensselaer Wind damage: Many trees blown down, some onto houses 9:50pm
Salisbury, CT Litchfield Wind damage: Many trees and wires reported down 10:15pm
North Adams, MA Berkshire FLASH FLOOD: Flash flooding along Mass Avenue 10:19pm
Norfolk, CT Litchfield Wind damage: Many trees and wires blown down 10:23pm

This is the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) national severe reports map for May 29, 2013 illustrating the regions, including the Northeast, where severe weather occurred.

SPC National Severe Reports Map for May 29, 2013 

Storm Pictures - Picture Captions Appear Above the Photographs


Left Photo: Photographer: CBS6 viewer Kayla Moraski: Supercell thunderstorm coming into Schenectady May 29, 2013. The lowered cloud extension may be a funnel cloudy and/or tornado - Right Photo: Photographer: David Wilson Appears to be the supercell wall cloud coming into Mariaville
Supercell T'storm coming into Schenectady,
Apparent supercell t'storm wall cloudy moving into Mariville, May 29, 2013
Left Photo: Photographer: CBS6 Jesse Lampkin: Video still frame of the tornado near Florida, NY moving into Mariaville. This was taken in Florida off of Route 30 south of Bulls Head Road- Right Photo: Photographer: Mikki Layug, Shelf cloud formation along the leading edge of severe t'storms coming over Schenectady
Supercell with funnel or tornado moving into Mariaville, May 29, 2013
Shelf cloud moving over Schenectady May 29, 2013
Left Photo: Photographer: Scott Halter: Funnel cloud, possible tornado near I-890 Schenectady County May 29, 2013 - Right Photo: Photographer: Alison Thomas, Shelf cloud going over the Walmart in Catskill, Greene County
Funnel cloud, possible tornado near I-890 Schenectady County May 29, 2013
Shelf cloud coming over the Walmart in Catskill, Greene County May 29, 2013
Left Photo: Photographer: Alison Thomas, Lightning near the Walmart in Catskill, Greene County -
Right Photo: Photographer: WeatherNet 6 spotter Jim Meehan, Shelf cloud over southern Rensselaer County moving south into Columbia county along the leading edge of severe t'storms with damaging wind
Lightning near near the Catskill Walmart, Greene County May 29, 2013
Shelf cloud over southern Rensselaer County moving south into Columbia County along the leading edge of severe t'storms with damaging wind, May 29, 2013
Left Photo: Photographer: Elisa Johnson Shaw, Shelf cloud over Red Hook in Dutchess County around 8:15pm May 29, 2013
Right Photo: Photographer: Jim Reidy Jr. dramatic cloud to ground lightning strike, location unknown
Shelf cloud over Red Hook Dutchess County 8:15pm May 29, 2013
Dramatic cloud to ground lightning strike, May 29, 2013
Left Photo: Photographer: Lynn Williams Taylor: Wind damage on Consaul Road behind Mallozzi's in Rotterdam, May 29, 2013
Right Photo: Photographer: Caitlyn Mills: Wind damage along the Niskayuna - Colonie town line, May 20, 2013
Wind damage on consaul Road behind Mallozzi's in Rotterdam, May 29, 2013
Wind damage along the Niakyuana - Colonie line, May 29, 2013
Left Photo: Photographer: Lynne Faught, Significant wind damage on Elanor Street, Schenectady, May 29, 2013
Right Photo: Photographer: Jennifer Coon, Wind damage on the Crosstown, Schenectady, May 29, 2013
Wind damage on Elanor Street, Schenectady, May 29, 2013
Wind damage along the the Crosstown in Schenectady, May 29, 2013
Left Photo: Photographer: Lynne Faught, Flash flooding on Vischer Avenue in Schenectady May 29, 2013
Right Photo: Photographer: Mark Perrella: One of the many spectacular rainbows that developed after the storms moved through, this one was across from Niskayuna High School on Balltown Road in Niskayuna
Flash Flooding on Vischer Avenue in Schenectady May 29, 2013
One of many spectacular rainbows after the storms, this one from across Niskayuna High School on Balltown Road
Before and after pictures of the barn at the Honor Way Farm in Mariaville. The tornado completely leveled the structure.
Before and after pictures of the barn at the Honor Way Farm in Mariaville 

 

WeatherNet 6 Rainfall Reports for May 29, 2013
(These are daily totals which include the rainfall from the warm frontal passage between midnight and 10am)

Town County Rainfall Report Town County Rainfall Report
Savoy, MA Berkshire 1.20" Lanesborough, MA Berkshire 1.40"
Pittsfield, MA Berkshire 1.40" Alford, MA Berkshire 0.50"
Clarksburg, MA Berkshire 1.32"      
           
South Berne Albany 1.00" Preston Hollow Albany 1.22"
Glenmont Albany 0.95" Cohoes Albany 1.44"
           
Taghkanic Columbia 1.22" Ancramdale Columbia 1.06"
Craryville Columbia 0.98" Germantown Columbia 1.02"
Chatham Center Columbia 1.00" North Chatham Columbia 1.45"
           
Arkville Delaware 1.95"      
           
Broadalbin Fulton 1.50"      
           
Oneonta Otsego 2.00" Cherry Valley Otsego 2.50"
Lexington Greene 0.40"      
           
Catskill Greene
1.20"
Jewett Greene 1.74"
Halcott Center Greene 1.87" Ashland Greene 1.10"
Greenville Greene 0.99"      
           
Hessville Montgomery 0.95" Glen Montgomery 0.72"
Fonda Montgomery 1.46" Florida Montgomery 1.29"
Amsterdam Montgomery 1.36" Canajoharie Montgomery 0.95"
           
Lansingurgh Rensselaer 2.50" Brunswick Rensselaer 1.25"
Speigletown Rensselaer 1.90"      
           
Porter Corners Saratoga 0.50" Corinth Saratoga 0.48"
Charlton Saratoga 1.40" Clifton Park (Oaks) Saratoga 2.21"
Wilton Saratoga 0.71" Ballston Lake Saratoga 0.97"
Malta Saratoga 1.02"      
           
Duanesburg Schenectady 0.87"      
           
Gilboa Schoharie 1.90" Jefferson Schoharie 2.40"
Schoharie Schoharie 1.10" Huntersland Schoharie 1.04"
Summit Schoharie 1.90" Richmondville Schoharie 1.39"
North Blenheim Schoharie 1.18"      
           
Saugerties Ulster 2.01" Phoenicia Ulster 1.23"
Kingston Ulster 0.47" Whiteport Ulster 0.17"
West Shokan Ulster 0.41" Claryville Ulster 0.71"
Ulster Park Ulster 0.35"      
           
Lake Luzerne Warren 0.45" Queensbury Warren 0.38"
           
Hebron Washington 0.49" Hudson Falls Washington 0.31"
           
Landgrove, VT Bennington 0.49" Pownal, VT Bennington 1.51"