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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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Page last modified: June 23, 2007
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