When and Where Did the Strongest Tornado Touch Down in New York?
Tornadoes aren't a common occurrence in New York, but they do still happen. We have even seen a few major tornadoes in our state.
Over the past few weeks, we've been looking at the "History of Tornadoes in New York" - From looking at the amount of tornadoes to hit certain counties (especially in Central New York), to the deadliest tornadoes, to the areas that have seen the least amount of tornadoes.
As we wrap up this series, we want to look at the strongest tornadoes that have hit New York. Our state has been pretty lucky on the fact that it has never seen an EF5 tornado - The strongest and most violent tornadoes, with wind speeds greater than 200 miles per hour. New York has seen a few F4 tornadoes, however.
***You'll notice we went from using the EF scale to the F scale for these tornado ratings. This is because of the year the F4 tornadoes hit New York. The EF Scale was introduced in 2007 and changed the wind speed and damage associated with tornadoes. According to the original F Scale, an F4 tornado had wind speeds between 207 and 260 miles per hour. On the new EF Scale, an EF4 tornado has wind speeds between 166 and 200 miles per hour. Both scales categorize the amount of damage the same, with an EF4 or F4 tornado being able to pick up and throw cars, to completely destroy well-built homes, and to turn pieces of debris into flying missiles.
New York has been hit with three F4 tornadoes, according to the data collected by Tornado History Project. Their data runs from May 1952 to June 2015.
The first recorded F4 tornado to hit our state happened on August 28, 1973 at 11:34am. It touched down southeast of Albany in Canaan (in Columbia County) and traveled south, southeast, crossed over into Massachusetts and later dissipated. According to reports from the Tornado History Project, the tornado destroyed a truck stop and diner, and possibly destroyed a home. Four people were killed from this storm, and another 36 were injured.
The second tornado on the list happened on May 31, 1985 at 3:25pm. This tornado actually started in Erie County, Pennsylvania and crossed state lines into New York. It finally made it's way into New York around 3:55pm - which means it had already been on the ground for about a half hour before making it our way. This storm wasn't as devastating for our state as the first one was. No injuries were reported, and no deaths.
The last tornado on the list is up for debate - Some reports say it wasn't an F4 tornado, others say it was. For the sake of this list, we're going to consider it an F4. This tornado touched down at 11:27am on July 10, 1989 southeast of Canajoharie, just outside of Mapletown. This is the only F4 tornado on the list that was completely in New York, and it's the one that traveled the furthest with a distance of 42 miles! This tornado traveled through Montgomery, Schoharie, Albany, and Greene Counties before it finally dissipated. This storm caused no deaths, but 20 people were reportedly injured.
Those are the strongest tornadoes that have touched down in New York. Luckily for us, tornadoes are not that common and the idea of an EF5 tornado hitting our state is just unheard of... BUT it doesn't mean it can't happen. We hope it never does, though.