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Mechanicville hit by thunderstorm microburst

Mechanicville hit by thunderstorm microburst

1,200 customers lost power during the storm
Mechanicville hit by thunderstorm microburst
Mechanicville residents survey the damage after a swift moving storm brought down trees and power lines Wednesday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

MECHANICVILLE -- A high-wind weather phenomena called a microburst hit Mechanicville Wednesday evening as a series of thunderstorms swept across the northern Capital Region.

That was the conclusion of the National Weather Service after two meteorologists from its Albany office toured the storm damage in Mechanicville Thursday morning. The microburst struck about 7:05 p.m. with wind speeds hitting 95 mph, the weather service determined -- the equivalent of the winds in a low-intensity tornado.

"The team observed dozens of hardwood trees uprooted or snapped," according it a written report. "A few trees fell on homes and cars. Some power poles were snapped resulting in power outages. A Little League dugout was destroyed by the wind."

Despite the severity of the storm, there were no injuries, Mechanicville police said, though they received numerous calls.

"We were able to confirm it was a microburst, which is basically when a bunch of wind in a thunderstorm comes down really fast, and when it hits the ground it actually accelerates," said Joe Celbulko, a National Weather Service meteorologist. "It is typical of severe thunderstorms, and there were severe thunderstorms in that area."

About 1,200 customers lost power, according to New York State Electric and Gas, though all power had been restored by late Thursday morning.

“Last night, during a severe wind storm, our Mechanicville service area experienced what appears to have been a microburst that took down a number of trees and power lines," said Michael Jamison, a spokesman for the utility, which serves Mechanicville.

The initial utility responders called for more resources, he said. "Crews worked tirelessly throughout the night and power was fully restored by this morning," Jamison said Thursday afternoon. "Customers may continue to see NYSEG crews in their neighborhoods as we perform a full system sweep during daylight hours to ensure the reliability of the system and the repairs made overnight.”

Most of the damage was in the area of Tallmadge Park and the west side of the city, which lies on low ground between the Halfmoon hills and the Hudson River. For some, it was a reminder of the 1998 Memorial Day tornado, which tore a path through Stillwater and Mechanicville.

"It was maybe a 5-to-12 minute episode," Anthony Gotti, the city's commissioner of public works, said Wednesday night. "But the winds were so unbelievably strong. There are like six trees uprooted on the back side here [at Tallmadge] that are over a foot thick. Big, big trees."

Gotti said the city's police officers and firefighters were on the streets quickly and shut down streets where trees and power lines had fallen.

Cebulko said the weather service is aware of other isolated reports of trees down or power outages due to Wednesday's storms, but no others as significant as in Mechanicville.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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