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Severe storm results in downed trees in Saratoga, Fulton counties

Severe storm results in downed trees in Saratoga, Fulton counties

National Weather Service to investigate if a tornado touched down
Severe storm results in downed trees in Saratoga, Fulton counties
People race to inside areas as a storm rolls through at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs on Wednesday, August 21, 2019.
Photographer: Erica Miller/Gazette Photographer

FULTON COUNTY -- The severe weather warning issued for southeastern Fulton County and central Saratoga County only resulted in downed trees and no reported injuries as of yet, according to the sheriff's departments in both counties.

The National Weather Service in Albany issued a warning Wednesday afternoon of the possibility of a tornado touching down between the two counties until 3:30 p.m. The potential hazard included 60 mile per hour winds and "penny sized hail." 

The potential municipalities impacted by the severe weather included: Saratoga Springs, Milton, Ballston Spa, Hagaman, Round Lake, Galway, North Ballston Spa, Rock City Falls, Gates, Malta, Greenfield, Stillwater, Parkis Mills, Deans Corners, Shaw Corners, Barkersville, West Milton, Wayville, Wiley Corners and Halls Corner and, in Fulton County, Broadalbin and Johnstown.

"We have experienced downed trees complaints in a few towns and the city of Johnstown.  Highway crews and National Grid crews are out.  We are fortunate that no tornadoes apparently hit any populated areas," Sheriff Richard Giardino said. 

The Saratoga County Sheriff's department is also reporting downed trees in the town of Milton and throughout the western part of Saratoga County. 

According to National Grid's power outage map at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, there were two power outages in Galway, affecting 41 customers, 10 power outages in Saratoga Springs, affecting 1,732, three outages in Ballston Spa, with nine customers affected and one power outage in Broadalbin with "fewer than five" customers affected. The map also indicated that crews had been assigned to most of the outages and listed restoration times as early as 6:45 p.m. to as late as 11 p.m. 

National Weather Service meteorologist Christina Speciale said it won't be known for certain if a tornado did touch down in the two counties until the National Weather Service completes a storm survey. 

"We have some pictures of what we call 'wall clouds', and those are usually associated with a tornado, but not always. So we still have to do some investigation," she said. 

Speciale said tornadoes are fairly rare in New York state, with only one or two forming per year. She said tornadoes are graded by intensity on the "Enhanced Fujita" scale, which ranges from EF0 -- which includes roof damage, pushed over rotten trees and broken branches --  to an EF5, which results in major damage to even steel-reinforced concrete structures. 

Speciale said New York state tornados are typically in the EF0 to EF1 range and usually only travel a quarter-mile in distance. 

"Typically they are short lived with a path of a quarter mile or a half mile at worst," she said.

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