Schenectady was lucky on Tuesday, June 9, 1953.
Tornados battered parts of Ohio, Michigan and central Massachusetts that day. In the first two states, 141 people were reported dead. Near Worcester, Mass., the death toll was 56.
The Capital Region’s weather problems never reached tragic proportions. Winds, gusting to 50 mph at times, uprooted trees, sheared branches and caused a couple of minor traffic accidents. But there were no fatalities.
Winds became most powerful between 4 and 6:30 p.m. Weather officials told reporters from the Schenectady Gazette a sharp drop in temperature during the afternoon probably saved eastern New York from more dangerous moments.
It was all about numbers: At 4 p.m., it was 90 degrees outside. By 6 p.m., the temperature had dropped to 74. During late night, it was 62. Warm, humid masses of air, forecasters said, were the most favorable conditions for tornados.
In Schenectady, parts of Campbell Avenue, Eastern Parkway, upper State Street, Veterans Memorial Park and sections of Union Street required city cleanup. Altamont and Floral avenues in Rotterdam and Story Avenue in Niskayuna also were hit hard.
The most serious scene took place on Union Street, when a tree limb was blown into the side of a moving car driven by James A. Deo of Troy. The wood ripped off a fender and smashed a rear window. Patricia A. Cook, 29, of Troy, suffered cuts and scrapes but did not need hospital attention.