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New York City tornadoes confirmed – Rare event also brings 125 mph winds

Sunday, September 19th, 2010 6:21am MDT
In a rare occurrence, two tornadoes struck the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens on Thursday, September 16, 2010.

In a rare occurrence, two tornadoes struck the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens on Thursday, September 16, 2010. View more images in the slideshow below.

Severe weather struck the Big Apple this past Thursday and brought with it only the sixth and seventh tornadoes to strike New York City since record keeping began in 1950.  Accompanying the storms were straight-line winds packing a 125 mph punch. 

Funnel clouds were spotted in the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn from the storms that also brought extraordinary winds and driving rain.  The severe thunderstorm toppled trees and power lines and left one woman dead.

The National Weather Service sent a team to look at the damage and determine if the winds were the result of a tornado or straight-line winds.  The answer is that two tornadoes -one an EF0 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, the other an EF1 – struck Brooklyn and Queens.

In the Park Slope Neighborhood of Brooklyn, the tornado touched down at about 5:33pm and ripped across the cityscape for two miles.  It generated winds of 80mph, an EF0, and had a maximum width of 75 yards. 

Slideshow - Twin tornadoes strike Brooklyn and Queens, New York.The second twister struck the Flushing / Bayside area in Queens and was stronger and longer lived.  That tornado packed winds of 100mph making it an EF1.  It reached a maximum width of 100 yards and was on the ground for four miles.  One fatality is attributed to the twister as Iline Leuakis of Pennsylvania was killed when a tree fell and crushed her car. 

Also notable were significant straight-line winds caused by a macroburst.  In the Middle Village and Forest Hills areas in Queens, winds reaching 125 mph with a path five miles wide and eight miles long contributed to the damage. 

The two tornadoes mark only the sixth and seventh tornadoes to strike in the five counties that make up New York City since 1950 – Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, Richmond.  The strongest occurred on August 8, 2007 and was an EF2 that caused nine injuries.

New York City’s Tornadoes – Since 1950

  • 1985-10-05, Queens County, EF1
  • 1990-08-10, Richmond County, EF0
  • 1995-10-28, Richmond County, EF1
  • 2003-10-27, Richmond County, EF0
  • 2007-08-08, Richmond & Kings Counties, EF2
  • 2010-09-16, Kings County, EF0
  • 2010-09-16, Queens County, EF1

Data courtesy the Tornado History Project

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