Saturday, December 9, 2023

Tornado Strikes Ulster County Near Thruway

An F1 tornado packing 90 mph winds and a separate macroburst both struck part of Ulster County near the New York State Thruway on Wednesday, the National Weather Service in Albany confirmed in a written report this morning. The NWS had issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Kingston and surrounding areas at the time.

The tornadic thunderstorm produced widespread wind damage across Kingston, Hurley, Marbletown, and the hills surrounding the Esopus Creek. The storm also produced large hail which stripped leaves off trees.

Prior to the tornado, a macroburst formed within a strengthening severe thunderstorm over rural areas approximately nine miles west of Kingston. The macrobust, which produced 90 mph winds, began at 8:37pm and was reported to be 1,750 yards wide. It impacted a four mile stretch of area before ending at 8:47pm.

The macroburst caused wide swaths of downed trees along Lapla Road and other nearby roads. At least two trees fell on cars. Wind damage consisting of broken, snapped and uprooted trees continued southeast across Route 209.

Two minutes later, at 8:49pm, a tornado abruptly developed and touched down near Route 29 (Hurley Avenue) between Davis Street and Hillside Drive. Researchers from the National Weather Service surveyed the scene and estimated the peak wind gust was 90 mph. The tornado was 300 yards wide and remained on the ground for one-half of a mile. It moved southeast, just short of the Thruway, and crossed a subdivision. The tornado lifted at 8:51pm.

No injuries were reported.

Although tornadoes are not a frequent occurrence in this area, they are not unheard of. Ulster County was struck by 12 other tornadoes since 1976. In 2000, an F2 tornado struck Esopus. The nearby Poughkeepsie Yacht Club recorded a 126 mph wind gust and sustained severe damage.

Orange County is also no stranger to tornadoes. Since 1969, there have been 13 confirmed twisters, including the notorious F1 tornado in 1989 that killed 18 students eating lunch inside the Coldenham Elementary School.

Vail’s Gate was struck by a powerful tornado on July 29, 1971 which tore roofs off many buildings, destroyed homes, and tossed cars into fields. At the Inn at Salisbury Mills, a jukebox was picked up and driven into a wall.

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