The tornado alerts turned out to be unfounded, but the storm racing eastward across the Capital Region Monday afternoon packed a lot of wind and rain into a short period.
The punishing gusts knocked a primary electrical line into a tree on Washington Street in Schenectady, creating an electrical arc that set a tree branch on fire.
It was a tense situation. Firefighters could not put out the flames until National Grid cut power to the high-voltage line. But they were worried that the flame might eat through the branch, dropping part of the tree onto the street.
While they waited, fire Capt. Greg Braungart decided to minimize as much damage as possible. He walked the street, reading out license plates of parked cars to a police dispatcher, who looked up the owners’ addresses. Firefighters found the owners of the two cars directly under the tree and had them move the vehicles out of danger.
Then National Grid arrived and dealt with the wire, at which point the tree branch stopped burning. “The area was wet enough that the arcing and burning of that tree limb didn’t catch anything else on fire,” Braungart said.
Firefighters found themselves calling National Grid all afternoon.
In Bellevue, a transformer caught fire, knocking out power on Ontario Street. In Mont Pleasant, firefighters also responded to another primary wire blown down, and they fielded multiple calls about trees and limbs that had fallen onto residential wires.
In Cobleskill, the storm sent a vehicle careening into a young cow.
Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond said the cow was seriously injured and it was unclear if the animal would survive.
A motorist was driving down Lamont District Road in Cobleskill when her vehicle began to skid and the vehicle’s rear end hit the cow, sending it into a well, Desmond said.
The injured cow was pulled out, Desmond said. The woman was unharmed.
Another motorist got stuck in a flash flood on River Street in Middleburgh. The vehicle stalled as the driver tried to go through the water.
The driver was not injured, Desmond said.
The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch during the storm, but no twisters materialized.