Major Severe Weather Outbreak - Friday May 15, 2020
QLCS With Widespread Wind Damage - Brief Spin Up EF-1 Tornado in Wilton

Well defined shelf cloud coming into Galway, Saratoga County Friday evening May 15, 2020
Photograph provided by Veronica Madison

Shelf cloud coming into Galway, Saratoga County, Friday evening May 15,2020

Severe QLCS (Quasi Linear Convective System) on Instant Doppler 6 at 6pm Friday May 15, 2020

Instant Doppler 6 at around 6pm Friday May 15, 2020

Severe QLCS (Quasi Linear Convective System) on Instant Doppler 6 at 7:10pm Friday May 15, 2020

Instant Doppler 6 at around 7:10pm Friday May 15, 2020 

One of the most widespread outbreaks of severe thunderstorms to hit the region in recent years blasted from west to east between 4:30 and 8pm Friday May 15, 2020, rolling through the immediate Capital Region between 6 and 7pm. The QLCS (quasi linear convective system, or squall line) produced widespread wind gusts of 50 mph with a zone from central Herkimer through Fulton, central Saratoga, central Washington, and northern Bennington counties hard hit with gusts ranging from 60-100 mph in pockets due to a particularly intense line segment, which also produced a brief spin up tornado in Wilton, Saratoga County, at 6pm. The event resulted in 50,000 - 60,000 utility customers in the region losing power with hundreds of trees downed and damage to roofs and siding in some towns. Approximately 150 severe reports were relayed by the National Weather Service in the local area with a least one report of wind damage occurring in every county in the CBS6 coverage area except Hamilton, Warren, and Rutland. Four tornado warnings were issued locally with severe thunderstorm warnings issued covering all or parts of every local county except for Rutland. A tornado watch was issued in advance of the event at 3:30 pm for all counties except Ulster, Dutchess, and Litchfield which were later added at 5:48pm.

Tornado watch area Friday May 15, 2020

SET UP:
May 15 dawned cool and mostly cloudy with scattered pre-dawn showers that had run up in advance of a passing warm front which ultimately stalled over the southern Adirondacks through the Glens Falls area into southern Vermont late in the afternoon. Sunshine gradually developed by mid to late morning with a period of strong sunshine by mid afternoon which effectively increased mixing of what was a warm air mass aloft (850mb temperatures of around 12° C) down to the ground resulting in a spike in surface temperatures into the upper 70s to mid 80s by mid to late afternoon. The heating aided in increasing the instability of the atmosphere with surface dewpoints, however, acting as an instability drag ranging from the upper 50s to around 60° prior to the outbreak. Mixed layer CAPE (convective available potential energy) values ranged from roughly 500 to 1000 J/kg as a result on average which is not a particularly high range.

4pm Temperature Observations May 15, 2020

Compensating, however, for the relatively low CAPE values was impressive wind shear with strong mid level flow contributing to 40-50 knots of bulk shear along with some turning of the low level wind, especially in the vicinity of the stalled warm frontal boundary over the southern Adirondacks. And shear values increased during the late afternoon and early evening due to the approach of a mid level shortwave trough and surface low pressure system which tracked from Ontario and western New York from the mid to late afternoon then across the Adirondacks into Vermont through the evening. This produced a favorable environment for widespread thunderstorm development with a line the most favored storm mode.

Thunderstorm development occurred during the early to mid afternoon across western New York along a lake breeze/weak cold frontal boundary. Thunderstorms rapidly intensified in the highly sheared environment, quickly organizing into a line and then rapidly moving east at roughly 45 mph arriving in Herkimer County shortly after 430pm. The image below illustrates the synoptic set-up at the surface by mid afternoon on the 15th. The Storm Prediction Center at this time was putting together the tornado watch for the region, issued instead of the more common severe thunderstorm watch due to the high shear conditions that existed, especially in the vicinity of the warm front, which favored some rotating updrafts in storms and the potential for a couple of brief spin up type tornadoes.


4pm Temperature Observations May 15, 2020

The extensive corridor of extreme wind damage which began in northern Oneida County and continued through central Herkimer, Fulton, central Saratoga, southern Washington, and north central Bennington counties locally, but also on through Windham County VT to Cheshire and Hillsborough Counties in N.H. pretty much to the coast, was due to a single long lived severe thunderstorm cell embedded within the QLCS which generated numerous meso-vortices throughout its lifecycle. These meso-vortices were extremely efficient at enhancing damaging downdraft winds, which were estimated, based on NWS storm damage surveys, to have reached 80-100 mph in pockets, with a particularly strong meso-vortex producing the brief spin up EF-1 ranked (85-90 mph winds) tornado in Wilton and then going on to produce widespread significant wind damage in Washington County from Cossayuna through Salem and Cambridge. Wind damage was also widespread in and around the Capital Region, mid Hudson valley and Berkshires as the squall line moved through with the lower dewpoint air likely facilitating a greater downward transfer of the high momentum air from aloft due to steep low level lapse rates which resulted.

Significant wind damage in Mayfield, Fulton County, Friday evening May 15, 2020
Photograph provided by Gabby Marie

Wind Damage in Mayfield, Fulton County Friday May 15, 2020 

CLICK HERE FOR THE RADAR PAGE DOCUMENTING THE PASSAGE OF THE QLCS THROUGH THE REGION  

The Albany National Weather Service conducted a storm damage survey in Herkimer County and found a long duration macroburst of straight line severe thunderstorm winds occurred between 4:40pm and 5:10pm where 80-100 mph winds occurred along a twenty five mile path that was up to ten miles wide. The survey found that numerous large hardwood trees were uprooted or snapped about a third to halfway up along with power poles snapped with significant power outages resulting. Areas hardest hit were along Grant Road and Fisher Road where a large tree was blown down onto and through a small house on Fisher Road. A secondary area of damage occurred in the Adirondack campground where an un-anchored trailer flipped and was dragged several feet to a new resting place. Numerous hardwood trees were also observed to have been uprooted or snapped about a third to halfway up with all debris pointed in a east to northeast direction.

Albany NWS Severe T'Storm Report - Herkimer County Macroburst

Albany Doppler radar base reflectivity, lowest tilt around 5pm pm Friday May 15, 2020 depicting the intense thunderstorm that was in the process of continuing to produce widespread wind damage in central Herkimer County.

Albany Doppler radar base reflectivity display around 5pm, Friday May 15, 2020 

The Wilton, NY EF-1 Tornado - Saratoga County - 5:59pm to 6:01pm

The Albany National Weather Service conducted a storm damage survey in Wilton, Saratoga County and determined that a tornado touched down near the intersection of Nichols Road and Woodard Road tracking east for just under two miles before lifting at the intersection of Wilton-Gansevoort Road and Blanchard Road. The path was nearly continuous with several softwood trees snapped an uprooted (some falling onto houses,) with street signs blown down and displaced. Also, part of the sheeting of a warehouse roof was peeled off and landed on a van, and an empty trailer was blown on top of a van. An EF-1 rating was assigned with winds estimated to have ranged from 85-90 mph.

Albany NWS Tornado Report - Wilton, Saratoga County May 15, 2020

Albany Doppler radar base reflectivity, lowest tilt around 6pm Friday May 15, 2020. This image is at about the time of the tornado and shows the intense cell responsible for widespread wind damage extending from Wilton south to Saratoga Springs. A distinct inflow notch can be observed along with a rear inflow notch as well over Wilton indicating a high wind damage potential with an embedded rotating updraft structure. Further south, northwest of Malta, another meso-vortex was evident with a hook echo visible on the display. Major wind damage occurred along and east of this cell through central and southern Washington County into Vermont.

Albany Doppler radar base reflectivity display around 6pm, Friday May 15, 2020 

Image generated by the Albany National Weather Service office showing the path of the tornado through Wilton - Friday May 15, 2020

Albany NWS Wilton Tornado Path Image 

The Albany National Weather Service conducted a storm damage survey in Cottekill in Ulster County and determined that an 85 mph microburst hit the Marcotte Road area of Cottekill. The microburst occurred within a very small area resulting in several uprooted and snapped hardwood and softwood trees and was associated with a mini-supercell thunderstorm that was tornado warned.

Albany NWS Severe TStorm Report - Cottekill - Ulster County

Albany Doppler radar base reflectivity, lowest tilt around 7:30 pm Friday May 15, 2020. This image is a few minutes past the reported microburst and shows the supercell thunderstorm, with hook appendage southwest of Rosendale as it was tracking east into Dutchess County. Some additional pockets of wind damage into Dutchess County occurred along the path of the storm, although the rotation weakened as it moved east.

Albany Doppler radar base reflectivity display around 7:35pm, Friday May 15, 2020


RAINFALL
The squall line did produce torrential rain, but that rain only lasted a brief period of time due to the fast forward speed of the system. In general, rainfall amounts came in around a quarter of an inch or less in the mid Hudson valley with a quarter to a half an inch in the Capital Region with some pockets in the western Catskills, Mohawk valley through Saratoga, Washington, and Bennington counties coming in with 1/2" to 1.00". No flooding occurred with the squall line and the period of light rain that followed it through the evening.

NWS Storm Reports for Friday May 15, 2020. Note, these reports are used to verify the NWS warnings which were issued for this event and therefore do not necessarily represent an accounting for all of the wind damage which may have occurred.

Town County Severe Weather Report Time
Poland Herkimer Wind Damage: Trees blown down on State Route 8 4:44pm
Cold Brook Herkimer Wind Damage: Trees blown down on Grant Road 4:44pm
Ohio Herkimer Several large trees and lines down at Pardeeville Road and Dan Davis Road in Ohio 4:45pm
Cold Brook Herkimer Major wind damage: Roof ripped off a house, shed flipped over and a few trees and power lines blown down 4:45pm
Northwood Herkimer Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down 4:46pm
Cold Brook Herkimer Measured 60 mph wind gust (NYSM) 4:50pm
Poland Herkimer Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on South Main Street blocking both lanes 4:55pm
4 Miles NE of Dolgeville Herkimer Wind Damage: Trees both snapped and uprooted 5:05pm
2 Miles NE of Dolgeville Herkimer Wind Damage: Tree blown down on a house and a car on Hopson Road 5:06pm
Stratford Fulton Wind Damage: Trees blown down 5:07pm
Dolgeville Herkimer Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on State Route 29 5:08pm
4 Miles WNW of Johnstown Fulton Wind Damage: Large pine tree down blocking Red School House Road 5:25pm
Mayfield Fulton Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Beech Street 5:30pm
Gloversville Fulton Wind Damage: Trees blown down across 5th Avenue 5:33pm
Northville Fulton Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down 5:33pm
Northville Fulton Wind Damage: Several large trees were snapped and uprooted on Simpson Street 5:34pm
Edmeston Otsego Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down 5:34pm
Perth Fulton Wind Damage: Large tree downed across a driveway on to of two cars 5:44pm
5 Miles NW of Richmondville Schoharie Wind Damage: Tree blown down on wires on West Clove Road 5:55pm
Greenfield Center Saratoga Wind Damage: 1 foot diameter tree down on wires blocking Route 9N at Old State Road 5:55pm
1 Mile NW of Saratoga Springs Saratoga Major Wind Damage: Roof damage to two homes 5:55pm
3 Miles WNW of Saratoga Springs Saratoga Wind Damage: Two 15 inch diameter trees snapped and blocking Brook Rd at Route 9N. Trees were snapped 1-2 feet and 8-10 feet off the ground 5:56pm
E. Delhi Delaware Wind Damage: Tree down into a house 5:56pm
Greenfield Saratoga Wind Damage: Numerous reports of trees and wires down around Maple Avenue in Greenfield, some on mobile homes 5:58pm
Saratoga Springs Saratoga Wind Damage: Down trees blocking all lanes of Route 9 5:58pm
Greenfield Center Saratoga Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Grange Road and Route 9N 5:59pm
Saratoga Springs Saratoga Wind Damage: Large tree down in downtown Saratoga Springs 5:59pm
2 Miles NNW of Wilton Saratoga Wind Damage: Large tree down blocking both lanes of Wilton Road 5:59pm
Wilton Saratoga EF-1 Tornado: Several softwood and hardwood trees were snapped and uprooted, some falling onto homes. Street signs were blown down and displaced. Part of the sheeting of a warehouse roof was peeled off and landed on a van and an empty trailer was blown on top of a van. Path length was 1.8 miles. Winds estimated between 85-90 mph 5:59pm-6:01pm
Bovina Center Delaware Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down 6:00pm
Greenfield Center Saratoga Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Daniels Road 6:00pm
2 Miles E of Wilton Saratoga Wind Damage: Downed tree on I-87 6:00pm
Hickeys Corners Saratoga Wind Damage: Tree blown down 6:00pm
Wilton Saratoga Hail: 3/4" Diameter 6:00pm
3 Miles NE of Charlton Saratoga 1 foot diameter tree blown down blocking the westbound lanes of Route 67 at Sweetman Road 6:04pm
2 Miles S. of Gansevoort Saratoga Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down at Putnam Road and Jacob Drive 6:04pm
1 Mile South of Wilton Saratoga Trees down on Northern Pines Road 6:04pm
Gansevoort Saratoga Wind Damage: Numerous trees uprooted and power poles snapped, damage off Exit 17 of I-87 on Ballard Road 6:06pm
Gansevoort Saratoga Hail: 3/4" Diameter hail measured 6:06pm
Gansevoort Saratoga Wind Damage: Snapped tree landed on a backhoe 6:06pm
1 Miles NE of Schuylerville Washington Wind Damage: Tree and wires down on CR 113 6:09pm
Middleburgh Schoharie Wind Damage: Five power poles snapped in the village 6:10pm
Greenwich Washington Wind damage: Trees and wires blown down 6:10pm
1 Mile SE of Middle Falls Washington Wind Damage: Trees blown down 6:10pm
2 Miles SSE of Victory Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on C.R. 113 6:10pm
1 Mile W of Middle Falls Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Ashdown Way 6:11pm
4 Miles S. of Argyle Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down 6:12pm
3 Miles NNW of North Easton Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Cheese Factory Road 6:12pm
Greenwich Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Hegman Bridge Rd. 6:12pm
1 Mile S. of Middle Falls Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Bulson Rd. 6:12pm
1 Miles NNE of Middle Falls Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on SR 40 6:12pm
3 Miles NE of Greenwich Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Ryan Road 6:13pm
4 Miles ESE of Gansevoort Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on North River Rd. 6:13pm
Fort Edward Washington Wind Damage: 3 large trees blown down 6:15pm
4 Miles S. of Fort Edward Washington Wind Damage: Downed pole and wires on Route 4 at Cary Road 6:15pm
3 Miles NE of Greenwich Washington Wind Damage: Shed knocked over by the wind 6:15pm
1 Miles SSE of Greenwich Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Colonel Baume Rd. 6:15pm
4 Miles SSW of Argyle Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Coon Rd. 6:15pm
4 Miles SSE of Argyle Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on CR 49 6:15pm
4 Miles SE of Argyle Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on CR 48 6:18pm
3 Miles NE of Middle Falls Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Rabbit Rd. 6:18pm
3 Mlles ENE of Middle Falls Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Derby Rd. 6:18pm
5 Miles SW of Salem Washington Wind Damage: Numerous trees blown down in Salem, the town of Jackson, toward Cambridge 6:20pm
3 Miles SE of Pittstown Rensselaer Wind Damage: Trees down throughout Pittstown 6:20pm
Gilboa Schoharie Wind Damage: Wires blown down 6:21pm
Niskayuna Schenectady Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Riverview Road 6:22pm
3 Miles NNW of Cambridge Washington Trees and wires blown down on Dunbar Road 6:22pm
5 Miles NNE of Cambridge Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Schoolhouse Way 6:22pm
3 Miles WSW of Salem Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on McDougal Lake Rd. 6:22pm
4 Miles NNE of Cambridge Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Dobbin Hill Rd. 6:22pm
5 Miles SSW of Salem Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Stanton Rd. 6:22pm
5 Miles SSW of Salem Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Ackley Rd. 6:22pm
5 Miles N. of Cambridge Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on CR 61 6:22pm
1 Mile NNW of Cambridge Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Content Farm Rd., and Driscoll Way 6:23pm
5 Miles NNE of Cambridge Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on County Route 61 6:23pm
2 Miles W. of Salem Washington Major Wind Damage: Tree down and barn collapse on Black Creek Rd. 6:24pm
3 Miles SW of Salem Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on SR 22 and Battenkill Grove Rd. 6:24pm
1 Mile N. of Salem Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on CR 64 6:25pm
Cambridge Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on West Main Street and Gilmore Ave. 6:25pm
4 Miles W. of Cambridge Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires down on Stump Church Rd. 6:25pm
Colonie Albany Measured wind gust of 58 mph at the Albany International Airport (ASOS) 6:26pm
4 Miles ESE of Salem Washington Wind Damage: Four downed birch trees, 12-18" in diameter on West Sangate Road 6:26pm
3 Miles SSE of Salem Washington Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Perry Hill Rd. 6:26pm
6 Miles SE of Salem Washington Wind Damage: Trees blown down on route 313 6:27pm
Troy Rensselaer Wind Damage: Large tree blown down on Wanda CT. 6:30pm
1 Mile WSW of Loudonville Albany Wind Damage: Wind ripped the siding off a garage on Osborne Rd. 6:30pm
Latham Albany Wind Damage: Several trees and large limbs down on Old Latham Rd. 6:30pm
Latham Albany Wind Damage: Multiple pieces of siding blown off a house 6:30pm
Cohoes Albany Wind Damage: Tree blown down on vehicles on Younglove and Broadway 6:30pm
Latham Albany Wind Damage: Large spruce tree blown down onto a house 6:31pm
Durham Greene Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down 6:31pm
Arlington, VT Bennington Wind Damage: Power lines blown down 6:33pm
4 Miles ESE of Westerlo Albany Wires blown down blocking Route 32 6:35pm
1 Mile SE of Delmar Albany Wind Damage: Tree down blocking Elsemere Avenue at Fernbank Avenue 6:36pm
1 Mile ESE of Manchester, VT Bennington Wind Damage: Several large limbs up to 25' long blown down along Carlen Street 6:37pm
2 Miles W. of Albany Albany Wind Damage: Tree blown down 6:38pm
Greenville Greene Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down 6:41pm
2 Miles N. of Selkirk Albany Wind Damage: Shingles blown off an apartment roof 6:43pm
Bennington, VT Bennington Measure wind gust of 51 mph (ASOS) 6:45pm
New Baltimore Greene Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down 6:47pm
4 Miles N. of Pownal, VT Bennington Wind Damage: Tree and wires blown down on Carpenter Hill Road 6:48pm
1 Mile SSE of Delmar Albany Wind Damage: Route 32 at Elsmere Avenue closed due to downed poles and trees 6:48pm
Coxsackie Greene Wind Damage: Route 385 closed between Kings Road and Bailey Street due to a downed tree and wires 6:50pm
Stuyvesant Columbia Wind Damage: Tree blown down, power lines on a house on County Route 25 6:54pm
Kinderhook Columbia Measured 58 mph wind gust (NYSM) 6:55pm
Valatie Columbia Wind Damage: trees blown down blocking a road in town 6:55pm
Kinderhook Columbia Wind Damage: Utility pole and wires down on Albany Avenue 6:57pm
Valatie Columbia Wind Damage: Tree blown down across the roadway on Chatham Street 6:58pm
Valatie Columbia Wind Damage: Trees and power lines blown down on Kinderhook Street 6:59pm
Canaan Columbia Wind Damage: Tree down blocking a roadway 7:00pm
Valatie Columbia Wind Damage: Tree down on Route 9H 7:01pm
Chatham Columbia Wind Damage: Two large trees blown down 7:02pm
Valatie Columbia Wind Damage: Tree down on wires on Route 203 near Johnson Lane 7:02pm
East Chatham Columbia Wind Damage: Pole and wires down on County Route 9 7:06pm
Livingston Columbia Wind Damage: Wires blown down on county Route 31 7:10pm
Chatham Columbia Wind Damage: Wires blown down on State Route 66 7:12pm
New Lebanon Columbia Wind Damage: Trees and power lines blown down on Old Mountain Road 7:15pm
2 Miles NE of Richmond, MA Berkshire Wind Damage: Several large trees blown down, including one into a moving vehicle 7:15pm
Richmond, MA Berkshire Wind Damage: Trees and power lines down 7:15pm
Canaan Columbia Wind Damage: Trees blown down on County Route 5 just north of State Route 295 7:16pm
Pittsfield, MA Berkshire Measured wind gust of 54 mph (ASOS) 7:17pm
Pittsfield, MA Berkshire Wind Damage: Tree down into a house on Pecks Road 7:18pm
2 Mile WNW of Dalton, MA Berkshire Wind Damage: Tree blown down blocking Route 8 across from Berkshire House of Corrections 7:19pm
Pittsfield, MA Berkshire Wind Damage: Wires blown down on Holmes Rd. 7:19pm
3 Miles W. of Austerlitz Columbia Wind Damage: Tree blown down across Dugway Rd. 7:19pm
3 Miles NNW of S.Egremont, MA Berkshire Wind Damage: Large pine trees blown down 7:20pm
2 Miles NW of Great Barrington, MA Berkshire Wind Damage: Tree blown down blocking Alford, Rd. and another down blocking Hurlburt Rd. 7:24pm
2 Miles N. of Great Barrington, MA Berkshire Wind Damage: Tree blown down blocking Hemlock Hill Road 7:26pm
Cottekill Ulster 85 mph microburst impacted Marcotte Rd. resulting in several snapped and uprooted trees 7:26pm
Great Barrington, MA Berkshire Tree blown down blocking Castle Street 7:27pm
Stone Ridge Ulster Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Atwood Road 7:30pm
Rosendale Village Ulster Wind Damage: Trees and wires blown down on Binnewater Rd. 7:33pm
Stanfordville Dutchess Wind Damage: Trees blown down blocking a roadway 7:55pm
Windsted, CT Litchfield Wind Damage: Tree branch blocking a road 8:16pm
Terryville, CT Litchfield Wind Damage: Tree blown down on wires 8:50pm

 

Cumulative Storm Reports For Friday May 15, 2020

Storm Prediction Center Storm Reports For May 15, 2020 


Shelf cloud passing over Saratoga Lake Friday evening May 15, 2020
Photograph provided by Debbie Lamay

Shelf cloud moving over Saratoga Lake, Friday evening May 15, 2020  


Wind damage in Kinderhook, Friday evening May 15, 2020
Photograph provided by Al Bellenchia


Wind damage in Kinderhook, Columbia County, Friday evening May 15, 2020

Shelf cloud coming over the Albany International Airport , Friday evening May 15, 2020
Photograph provided by Kaitlyn Jesmonth - a 58 mph wind gust was recorded at the airport as the shelf cloud went by at 6:26pm.

Shelf cloud coming over the Albany International Airport, Friday evening May 15, 2020 

Shelf cloud into Salem, Washington County, Friday evening May 15, 2020
Photograph provided by Brad Curtis - Widespread significant wind damage occurred in and around Salem

Shelf cloud coming into Salem, Washington County, Friday evening May 15, 2020