Posted by: zhak39 | September 18, 2010

We’re not in Kansas anymore

Well I’ll be dipped.  Apparently the wind event in Queens actually was a tornado.

When I  heard on NPR that a devastating weather anomaly blew through the New York City burg my first thought was there are no tornadoes in my home state.  I did not recall any in my childhood locale near the Hudson River.  Apparently I wasn’t paying attention.  According to the Tornado Project, there were several twisters there in the latter half of the 20th century.  Notably, there were two in one month in 1992.  Also notable, the first tornado reported in that area did not occur until 1972.

In the same table the earliest events are listed in 1954, an F1 in July in Yates County and an F2 that September in St. Lawrence.  So what’s the F?  It comes from the Fujita scale.  An F0, which is what touched first the other day in Brooklyn is lightweight.  (Not to take away from the damage done by that event, a gale tornado will put a peak on your meringue.)  An F1 is considered moderate and relates to hurricane speed and F2 is significant with winds from 113 to 157 mph.  The Fujita scale is a measure of intensity as opposed to size and is illustrated with probable damage but I consider this somewhat misleading on a small scale.  What may blow over a poorly anchored mobile home in one topography may not seriously damage a better structured unit in another.  In fact, I was once blown away by the sight of the nodding head of a Queen Anne’s Lace bobbing next to the upturned roots of a decades old oak tree resulting from an downburst during a brief summer thunderstorm.

The events in New York in a 45 year period ranged in intensity up to F4 or ‘devastating.’ While F0 to F4 tornadoes are not going to whisk someone to Oz, they are significant events and are occurring with a frequency that surprised me.

Events by Intensity 1950- 1999



  1. One thing I learned from living in the midwest, if the sky turns a yellowish green, you are in for it. While the dark clouds can turn day into night, the brighter sky behind the darkness is where the evil stuff happens.

    Bridgeport, CT was nailed last month, as were the northwest hills near the NY border.

    Do we blame it on El Nino, angry God(s), or is it the wrath of Al Gore against the unbelievers. Who knows. It’s looks like tornadoes aren’t just for the midwest any more.

  2. I learned from a Methodist minister here in North Carolina. My colleague and I were looking out our office window noting that this oak tree was actually swaying in a circle when the minister came in and yelled “get away from the window. What the hell is wrong with you two?”

  3. Such language from a minister!


    I was raised Catholic, so swearing clergy was pretty common, and amusing.

  4. I was pretty shocked but more so when he, um, tried to… Let’s just say sexual harassment in the workplace is not limited to the secular.

  5. Glad you got away before being “saved”. I’m a firm believer that God or Karma working in mysterious ways.

    One can always hope that something got caught in the zipper.

  6. He took a blow to his pride (metaphorically, people).

  7. Heh heh heh. Hey Beavis, he said, “firm,” and she said, “blow.” Eh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh.

    Zhak, we didn’t realize there were tornadoes because, though they touched down nearby, they didn’t come to Dutchess County while we were there. I remember one ripping through Middletown while we were there. I remember one cutting through the Great Barrington area while we were there — but those seemed anomolies.

    Where I live now, they’re all around me and never hit my town. Something about the strange intersection between I-80 and I-35 that coincides with some jet stream thing — they’ll touch down less than a mile from the perimeter of town, but never here.

  8. That’s interesting. I’ll have to look that up sometime.

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