Saturday, December 9, 2023

Tornadic Thunderstorms Possible Monday

Monitor warnings, live radar and real-time conditions at The Newburgh News LLC’s Vails Gate Tower (KVGT).

The National Weather Service (NWS) is monitoring the likelihood of severe thunderstorms with possible tornadoes on Monday. The main threat during the severe thunderstorms will be damaging winds.

The NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Oklahoma, which tracks major storm outbreaks across the country, has placed eastern New York under the highest risk in the nation for severe storms. In an unusual move this long out, the local NWS office in Upton, NY has already issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for Orange County outlining the threat.

Elsewhere around the region, NWS Binghamton has already placed Sullivan County and the entire Catskills Region under a risk, while NWS Albany has placed Ulster/Dutchess Counties and all points north under the same risk.

The yellow area indicates the highest threat for severe thunderstorms with tornadoes. (Source: NOAA Storm Prediction Center)

The SPC explains, “Locally damaging winds and some hail will be the primary severe risks, though a tornado is also possible during the afternoon.”

A cold front will shift east over the Appalachians during the day, encountering daytime heating and moisture. This will gradually destabilize the atmosphere, resulting in thunderstorms increasing during the afternoon. As jet stream winds reach 70 mph, it will create wind shear in the organized, faster moving storms. This wind shear may trigger tornadoes.

The strongest tornado to ever hit Orange County was in New Windsor on July 29, 1971. An F2 tornado developed over Salisbury Mills at 4:50pm. It moved into Vails Gate and lifted over New Windsor, leaving 8 miles of destruction and causing over $250,000 in damage by 1971 costs. The former “Inn at Salisbury Mills” had its roof torn off. Their pool table and jukebox were overturned and driven against a wall. A vehicle was picked up and dropped in a nearby field. In Vails Gate, a print shop had its roof torn off and the walls blown out. A home and garage were demolished, and three summer cottages were destroyed. Nearly 50 homes and buildings sustained damage. Stewart Airport recorded 2.5″ of rain from the storm.

Over the last 20 years, only five tornadoes have struck Orange County. On May 15, 2018, a deadly F0 tornado with 75 mph winds killed a woman in the Balmville section of the Town of Newburgh and left a short path of destruction.

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