July 21, 2003 Tornado 

(updated for Columbia County tornadoes)

The severe weather season to date had been unusually quiet.  There was a minor outbreak of severe weather on May 1st and since then only a couple isolated reports of severe weather.  On July 21st two waves of severe weather caused considerable damage across eastern New York and Western New England.

Storm Report for Afternoon Storms Storm Report for Evening Storms
Summary Damage Photos

Tornado Track  Tornado Track (click to enlarge)

Click on Damage Photos to enlarge

The first wave moved through at mid afternoon causing wind damage from Schoharie County to the Capital District.   At the same time the first severe weather was hitting the area,  a well organized mesoscale convective complex was moving across northwest Pennsylvania.  It moved east across the southern tier of New York and by early evening approached the Albany forecast area.  A well organized line of thunderstorms produced severe weather as into moved into our area.  A long-lived supercell developed on the line with straight line wind damage in northern Ulster County.  As the storm moved into Greene County an F1 tornado  (50 yards wide and a half mile long) touched down  in Palenville .

The tornado next touched down in the hamlet of Kiskatom in the town of Catskill. There, the storm damage was rated F2, with a path width of a hundred yards and a length of over one mile. Several houses there were damaged beyond repair, and several house trailers were destroyed. There were also reports of seven people injured - some of them being rescued from the debris of their homes.  In  Athens there was  more damage along the stormís path. It was rated borderline F0/F1, with a path width of 50 yards and a length of a half mile.  In Coxsackie F1 damage continued, with a width of about 150 yards and length of about a half mile. With that touchdown, in addition to a wide area of damaged trees, a manufactured home, which was poorly anchored, had been completely moved off itís foundation. That home also had insulation bits pasted to the siding on the downwind side, typical of tornadic damage in the F1 Range. That brought the total discontinuous path length of tornadic damage in Greene County to approximately 17 miles.

Tornadoes were also confirmed in Columbia County following a second day of damage assessment.  The National Weather Service indicated an F2 tornado touched down in the extreme northeast end the town of Kinderhook on county route 28b. Several structures sustained significant damage with one barn destroyed. This particular damage path started on Ottoville Road to the south with a rating of F1 at that location. The path length was one and a quarter mile and the width averaged 50 yards. Further south, in the town of Stuyvesant on county route 26a, more evidence of damage from tornadic activity was found. The damage was rated an F0 with a path length of one half mile and a width of 60 yards. Finally, an F0 tornado touched down at Newton Hook in the town of Stuyvesant, across the river from Coxsackie. The discontinuous path was approximately four tenths of a mile in length and approximately 125 yards wide.

In the villages of Kinderhook, Valatie and Niverville there was extensive straight line wind damage, including damage to numerous structures and automobiles. Winds there were estimated in excess of 80 mph. There was extensive damage in Nassau, Rensselaer County, where witnesses saw a tornado touchdown on McClellan Road. The tornado track was three quarters of a mile long, and 75 to 100 yards wide, and the tornado was rated an F1. The remaining damage in the village of Nassau was attributed to downburst winds from the same storm.

The supercell produced another tornado in Bennington County, Vermont, where a damage path beginning in North Pownal, extended over Mount Anthony into the City of Bennington.  There was a nearly continuous damage path between 50 and a hundred yards wide and 10.6 miles long. That touchdown track was rated F1 for much of itís length, with a few places where it was an F0. In the town of Bennington, there was also an area where the path widened, and there was likely a downburst associated with the storm in addition to the stripe of tornadic damage.

In summation this one storm produced an observed track of tornadic and straight line wind damage 67.5 miles long between 8:14 PM and 9:30 PM. There was also radar indication of rotation in the storm, and reports of straight line wind damage in Ulster County as early as 7:40 PM.  The rotational signature on radar continued on into east central Bennington County until 9:50 PM, even though no surface damage was found beyond North Bennington, Vermont.

During the July 21, 2003, severe weather outbreak across eastern New
York and western New England, 21 Severe Thunderstorm Warnings and seven Tornado Warnings were issued by the warning team at WFO Albany, New York.

An F0 tornado produces winds of less than 73 mph, an F1 tornado winds of 73 to 112 mph and an F2 tornado generates winds of 113 to 157 mph.



Of the 28 warnings issued, 20 Severe Thunderstorm Warnings and six Tornado Warnings were verified. Tornado touchdowns in Greene County, New York, included an F2 tornado in Catskill, an F1 tornado in Palenville, an F0/F1 tornado in Athens, and an F1 tornado in Coxsackie.
Evidence of an F1 tornado was found in the Village of Nassau, Rensselaer County, New York. Widespread damage across the rest of Rensselaer County and Columbia County, New York, were attributed to straight line winds. In North Pownal, Bennington County, Vermont, significant downburst damage was found, with evidence of F0/F1 tornadic damage.  No deaths occurred during this event. The average warning lead time was 34 minutes for Severe Thunderstorm Warnings and 14 minutes for the TornadoWarnings. The probability of detection for all events was 0.93 and the
false alarm ration was 0.07.


Damage Photos

Damage Photo Damage Photo Damage Photo
Damage Photo Damage Photo Damage Photo
Damage Photo   damage photo


Afternoon Preliminary Storm Report

0317 PM    MIDDLEBURG                NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   SCHOHARIE                      WIRES DOWN 
0346 PM    LEXINGTON                 NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   GREENE                         TREES DOWN 
0400 PM    SCHENECTADY               NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   SCHENECTADY                    TREES AND WIRES DOWN 
0401 PM    GUILDERLAND               NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   ALBANY                         TREE DOWN 
0411 PM    COLONIE                   NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   ALBANY                         LARGE TREE LIMB DOWN/ 
                                          WIRES DOWN 
0425 PM    CLIFTON PARK              NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   SARATOGA                       TREES DOWN/ WIRES DOWN 
0430 PM    HUDSON FALLS              NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   WASHINGTON                     WIRES DOWN 
0430 PM    CAMBRIDGE                 NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   WASHINGTON                     WIRES DOWN 
0437 PM    SCHAGHTICOKE              NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   RENSSELAER                     TREES DOWN 
0440 PM    PITTSTOWN                 NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   RENSSELAER                     TREES DOWN 
0441 PM    HOOSICK                   NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   RENSSELAER                     TREES DOWN 
Evening Severe Weather
0705 PM    EAST FISHKILL             NY   1 INCH HAIL            
07/21/03   DUTCHESS                       
0800 PM    COUNTY WIDE               NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   ULSTER                         NUMEROUS TREES/WIRES DOWN 
0815 PM    COUNTY WIDE               NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   DUTCHESS                       NUMEROUS TREES/WIRES/POWER 
                                          OUTAGES COUNTY WIDE
0816 PM    BETHLEHEM CENTER          NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   ALBANY                         NUMEROUS TREES DOWN 
0820 PM    ESOPUS                    NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   ULSTER                         NUMEROUS TREES DOWN 
0823 PM    CATSKILL                  NY   TORNADO                
07/21/03   GREENE                         TWO HOUSES DESTROYED BY 
                                          POSSIBLE TORNADO.  PEOPLE 
                                          TRAPPED INSIDE. 
0825 PM    HUDSON                    NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   COLUMBIA                       NUMEROUS TREES DOWN 
0830 PM    STOCKPORT                 NY   1.75 INCH HAIL         
07/21/03   COLUMBIA                       
0858 PM    LENOX DALE                MA   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   BERKSHIRE                      NUMEROUS TREES DOWN 
0900 PM    BETHLEHEM CENTER          NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   ALBANY                         TREES DOWN ON DELAWARE 
0900 PM    COUNTY WIDE               NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   RENSSELAER                     NUMEROUS TREES DOWN 
                                          COUNTY WIDE
0912 PM    WEST CORNWALL             CT   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   LITCHFIELD                     TREES AND WIRES DOWN... 
0915 PM    EASTON                    NY   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   WASHINGTON                     TREES DOWN 
0930 PM    BENNINGTON                VT   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   BENNINGTON                     NUMEROUS TREES/WIRES DOWN  
                                          POWER POLES DOWN 
1000 PM    COUNTY WIDE               VT   WIND DAMAGE            
07/21/03   WINDHAM                        NUMEROUS TREES DOWN 

updated July 24, 2003