Friday, July 4, 2014

Storm Stories

Heavy rain in upstate NY on 4th of July Eve
Living in Salt Lake City, I don't get many opportunities to experience the remarkable severe convective weather warning system that we have in the United States, but I did have such an opportunity yesterday while visiting my parents in upstate NY.

At 4:30 PM my son came to me and asked me what was going on as he received a tornado warning on his phone.  Simultaneously, I got an e-mail from a friend asking "tornado warning–all OK up there?"

At the time, we'd just experienced a non-severe convective storm and the sun had just come out.  My first thought was that something must be some misunderstanding, but then I thought that things are different than when I was a kid.  Today we have a remarkable radar warning system and there's a chance that there is something far upstream that they've issued the warning for.

Indeed, that was the case.  The storm of interest was about 30 miles upstream of us and we were sitting on the eastern (downstream) edge of the warning polygon.

When I was a kid and a tornado warning was issued, you pretty much dashed into the basement as lead times were typically short or non-existent.  Yesterday, we watched the radar for about a half an hour and then retreated downstairs as the storm approached and watched it on the laptop.  You can't always count on that much lead time, but it is remarkable how much lead time there can be in some situations (Note: The circumstances here were optimal.  You should take immediate action in most instances when a warning is issued. Don't assume that you have time to wait).

Was there a tornado?  During the storm, a tornado was reported a few miles from us.  

Source: NWS
Further, there clearly was wind damage in the area, but the NWS is going out this morning to survey the damage and see if it was tornadic or produced by straight-line winds.  We'll know if the warning verified later today.

Update @ 3 pm:

NWS surveys show no tornado, but damage from 100 mph straight-line winds.  

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