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Evidence Of A Tornado Found In The Finger Lakes Region Of New
York, Seneca County
A National Weather Service Storm Survey Team found a swath of wind
damage in Southeastern Seneca County, within the Sheldrake area of
the town of Ovid. The pattern of damage was consistent with that of
an EF-1 tornado, on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.
The degree of damage, which consisted mainly of snapped off and uprooted
trees, indicated that maximum wind speeds were around 90 mph.
The tornado appeared to touch down in Sheldrake, near the northern
end of Wyers Point Road, just east of State Route 89, and near the
western shore of Cayuga Lake, at about 3:46 PM EDT. The tornado
then tracked southeastward for about 1.5 miles, nearly parallel to
both Wyers Point Road and the Cayuga Lake shoreline. At any given
point, the observed damage had a width of up to about 100 yards.
Numerous trees sustained damage along this path length. Several very
large trees were uprooted, and many more were snapped off. Utility
poles in this same vicinity were either knocked down or sheared off.
The orientation of the tree damage suggested a pattern of cyclonic
rotation. Eyewitness accounts also detail both violently rotating
debris just above ground level, and visual sighting of a funnel
down to the surface near the shoreline. Interestingly, any observed
structural damage was relatively minor. A metal road sign was
uprooted and blown across county Route 139, and a garage just off
Wyers Point Road sustained roof damage from fallen trees. The
tornado eventually crossed County Route 139, before emerging over
the waters of Cayuga Lake, between about 3:50 and 3:55 PM EDT.
At that point, evidence suggests that the tornado lifted back
towards the cloud base, over the open waters of Cayuga Lake. One
eyewitness account, from the King`s Ferry Fire Station, which was
about 2 miles east of the storm at approximately this time, sighted
a funnel cloud over Cayuga Lake, with the funnel observed to be
well above the surface of the water.
Just before 4:00 PM EDT, a burst of strong damaging winds reached
the eastern shores of Cayuga Lake. Wind damage, which again
primarily affected trees, impacted a small area near the Cayuga
Lake shoreline, within the Lake Ridge section of Lansing
Township, in far Northwestern Tompkins County. One large tree was
uprooted, and a few more were snapped off. The orientation of the
tree damage in lake ridge was divergent in nature, which indicated
more of a straight line wind or downburst signature. Estimated wind
speeds with this particular damage were between 60 and 80
MPH, which would fall mainly within the EF-0 category on the
Enhanced Fujita Scale.
Both the intensity of the winds and associated damage appeared to
decrease markedly, only a short distance inland from the eastern
shore of Cayuga Lake, in Lansing Township. By state Route 34B,
about a mile east of the shoreline, only a few downed limbs were observed.
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Storm Relative Motion