Severe Weather Report : Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Severe weather comes to the Hudson Valley every year, but thankfully events like what we saw on Tuesday are quite rare.  A significant amount of damage was done, likely millions of dollars of damage when all is said and done across the region.  In addition, lives were lost in this event… and our hearts go out to the friends and family of those who were taken by this storm… our thoughts and prayers are with you.

So we are going to try and recap this massive event.  This severe event was so large in size and scope, that the National Weather Service was not able to account for all of the events in our area.  We have allowed for several days to pass, and for additional reports to come in and verify… but still, there are some cases that are not accounted for on this list from the National Weather Service (NWS).  So please understand that this compiled list and map will not be perfect.  We have utilized the NWS database for the date, and removed reports outside of the Hudson Valley in NY.  So below you will find 3 graphics… one for tornado reports, one for hail reports, and one for wind damage reports.  Below those, is a map with the severe reports plotted by location.

National Weather Service Severe Weather Reports: Tuesday 5/15/18

The storm damage map is likely one of the busiest we’ve ever seen over the Hudson Valley, and it doesn’t even encompass everything that happened.  That said, just look at all of the severe weather reports on this map.  In a ‘typical’ severe weather event for our area, we might see 3 or 4 ‘W’s indicating damaging winds over 50mph… 1 or 2 ‘H’s indicating hail of 1 inch in diameter of more… and maybe a ‘T’ indicating a reported tornado if the outbreak was particularly strong.  This map has too many reports to count.  Above the map, you’ll notice 3 graphics where we’ve

4 Confirmed Tornadoes

The National Weather Service confirmed 4 of the 5 tornadoes that were reported.  The Eldred tornado was classified as a severe downburst, with winds up to 95mph.  But there were 4 confirmed tornadoes, and that is very likely the largest tornado outbreak in recorded history of the Hudson Valley.  There were 2 tornado outbreaks with more confirmed tornadoes in New York… on May 31, 1998 (10) and May 31, 2002 (5).  But those outbreaks were not focused in the Hudson Valley, with the 1998 outbreak being focused upstate (Saratoga area had an EF3), and the 2002 outbreak had 3 tornadoes in the Hudson Valley (1 confirmed in Delaware county, 1 unconfirmed in Dutchess county, and 1 unconfirmed in Putnam county).  Prior to the periods discussed above… tornado data in New York is a bit more difficult to authenticate.  So while we are certain that this was the largest outbreak in the Hudson Valley in at least the last 20 years… and are fairly sure it’s the largest confirmed tornado outbreak in the Hudson Valley’s recorded history… we cannot be 100% sure as of this post, that there was not a larger outbreak at some time.

Countless Reports of Hail and Wind Damage

The map is jaw dropping, with roughly 50 reports of wind damage, and roughly 20 reports of hail in excess of 1 inch of diameter… in addition to the 4 confirmed tornadoes and 1 reported tornado that turned out to be downburst… for a total of 75 severe reports in the Hudson Valley.  In comparison, the May 31, 2002 severe weather outbreak produced roughly 5 reports of wind damage, 9 reports of hail, 1 confirmed tornado and 2 unconfirmed tornadoes… for a total of 17 severe reports in the Hudson Valley.  It would take us a considerable amount of time to look at ALL the data on record to be certain, but it stands to reason that the May 15, 2018 severe outbreak was the largest severe weather event on record for our area.

Cases of Unreported Severe Weather Damage

For all the reports that were submitted to the National Weather Service, there were MANY cases of severe weather damage that were not reported.  Likely the most asked about area, is an area near the Tri-county area where Sullivan, Ulster and Orange counties meet… affectively between Pine Bush, Walker Valley, and Bloomingburg.  The primary road that traverses this areas is Burlingham Road.  We have highlighted this area on the severe weather map above, to demonstrate that there are no severe reports that were given to the National Weather Service.

Due to the high inquiry, with no official reports listed, we (HVW) decided to do a brief assessment of the damage in the region, to see if a tornado had possibly touched down in that area.  After a preliminary review, it’s likely that a strong microburst or macroburst affected that area, with wind gusts over 60 to 80mph likely.  There were dozens… maybe hundreds of trees downed in an area of roughly 10 square miles that we informally surveyed.  Almost all of the debris was facing the same direction… as if a giant knocked over the tree from west to east… meaning that straight line winds were almost certainly responsible.

Hopefully someone from the National Weather Service will take a look at the debris, but this particular area faces 2 problems.  The first, is that it is the intersection of 3 counties… and each county is covered by a different NWS office.  It could easily be difficult to decide which NWS office should send a research team.  The second problem for this area, is that no report was made to the National Weather Service by a trained spotter… and thus the NWS may not be aware of the situation.  We’re not sure if there is a certified NWS spotter in that area, but this is surely one of the problems with reporting and analysis of severe weather events… even today, in 2018.  If the reports don’t get made to the appropriate people, then historically speaking, it’s as if the event never happened.  We’re not sure exactly how to fix this problem… but it’s an issue that is surely worth future discussion.

In Closing…

This was a tremendous event, any way you slice it.  From the severity of damage, to the size of the area damaged, to the number of people impacted, to the duration of time that some areas were without utilities.  We expect that additions and corrections will be made to the data and reports as time goes on… simply because of all the number of things that need to be taken into account.  We welcome additional reports and information in the comments section, and we will try to work those items in where necessary.

We have not had time to go through all the historical data.  In fact, we may not even have access to all the historical data.  Even so, when we compare this event, to one of the most severe outbreaks in the last 20 years… this event (as it pertains to the Hudson Valley specifically) has roughly 4 times as many severe weather reports.  For that reason alone, it stands to reason that this was if not THE biggest event on record in the Hudson Valley, it is surely one of the worst ever.  We hope you made it through safe and sound, with as little impact as possible.  But we know that many of our neighbors were not so lucky.  The community has been tremendous thus far, in responding to those in need.  Lets make sure that we continue to do so.  The Hudson Valley is an amazing place… with amazing people.  Thanks for reading…

Sunday Discussion: Better, but Still Unsettled

The sun is trying so hard to break through the clouds today.  But our unsettled pattern just can’t seem to clear out of the area.  As a result, we’ve got a few light rain showers and sprinkles scattered about the region.  On the positive side, temps have risen into the mid 70s… so at least we have a much warmer feel than yesterday.

So for the rest of the day, expect clouds to mix with a few peeks of sunshine.  A spotty rain shower can’t be ruled out, as a weak front moves through the Hudson Valley… shifting our wind out of the NW for the rest of the day.  Temps will be in the mid to upper 70s for most of us, making for decent conditions for outdoor activities.  So hopefully we can salvage part of the weekend.  

We have all the data compiled on our severe weather event from Tuesday… and should have the post finished and published tonight.  Enjoy your afternoon!

Saturday Discussion : What a Washout

Not a whole lot needs to be said after you take a look at the radar…

A soaking rain has settled in, and is in no hurry to exit.  Expect periods of light to moderate rain through the day, with a chilly, raw feel.  Temperatures will be stuck in the upper 40s and low 50s for much of the day… only rising once the rain tapers off late today or this evening.  Then temps will be on the rise through the night… into the low 60s by sunrise on Sunday.

Sunday’s a tricky forecast… looking like clouds mixing with some breaks of sunshine.  It appears likely to be unsettled, but only a slight chance for a stray shower or thundershower during the middle part of the day.  So it seems that most of us may luck out, and end up in the mid to upper 70s, while staying dry.

We’re still working on the severe weather event recap… hopefully we’ll have that in the next day or two.  Until then, have a great Saturday, and stay dry!

Friday Discussion : Unsettled Pattern Continues

It’s been a rough week across the Hudson Valley.  The severe storms from Tuesday left a mark that will last for a while.  Some parts of the area were spared the worst… while others were hit with confirmed tornadoes.  Our operations haven’t gone unaffected either.  Internet service has been sporadic, resulting in our posting ability to be somewhat limited.  We are going to do a full recap of Tuesday’s severe weather over this weekend if the internet cooperates.

For Friday… things look dry, and not too terrible

Clouds should mix with sunshine, and allow temperatures to climb up toward 70°.  Giving us some quiet weather, and a chance to clean up across the region.  However… that calm weather will go by the wayside Friday night, and a very soggy Saturday lies ahead of us.

Some left over moisture from a system that was in the Gulf of Mexico a few days ago will push northward overnight, and bring a rather soaking rainfall for the 1st half of Saturday.  Expect periods of rain for the morning hours on Saturday, tapering to scattered showers early in the afternoon.  The scattered showers should slowly exit the region during the afternoon on Saturday… but anyone with outdoor plans will want to plan for rain.  The afternoon surely looks dryer than the morning, but rain showers could fall at any point.

Sunday we’ll warm up, and be a bit more humid… which could bring us some scattered showers and thunderstorms Sunday.  As of now, those storms are not likely to be severe, but we’ll keep our eyes on things.  Regardless… a very unsettled weekend is on tap.  Anyone with outdoor plans will want to plan accordingly.

We hope that you have had a safe week… and that you were not impacted too badly by the storms on Tuesday.  If you were hit hard… we hope that you’re OK, and that you get back to normal as quickly as possible.  Have a nice Friday everyone!

Wednesday Discussion : Severe Weather Recap

The morning sheds light on a very battered region this morning, we have multiple school closings, road closures and still large pockets of the region with no utility services. What we know as of this morning is that a well forecasted severe weather outbreak impacted most of the region, we know that several discrete storm cells broke out in front of the main squall line and due to prime conditions we had a few of these cells developed into super cells, meaning they had rotation. These storms spawned tornado warnings due to this radar indicated rotation.

As of this morning there has not been any tornado touchdowns “confirmed” by the National Weather Service. Having said that, we know that these storms had winds that may have approached 100 miles per hour and can exceed this as well, and some of the largest hail reports we have seen in our region in quite some time as supercells have extremely strong updrafts. Supercell storms can create microbursts that contain winds that can be as damaging as a small tornado but across a larger area. The damage pattern from a microburst is fanned out in multiple directions from a center point where the microburst hit the surface, trees can be sheered off from the tops and roofs can be removed. These storm cells impacted, northern Ulster near Saugerties and also parts of Sullivan County near Livingston Manor and spread into Columbia County as well.

Once the cold front got closer to the region, the storms became more linear and formed into a bowing line segment. The reason we call this a bowing line is the shape the line takes on radar, it appears to bow outwards, the reason for this is tremendous winds behind the squall line. This line of storms hit Southern Ulster, Southern Dutchess, Orange and Putnam particularly hard. The main impact here was something called straight line winds, the damage pattern from this effect is all from the same direction, multiple trees and house damage and utility damage all from a similar direction, straight line winds can reach and exceed 100 mph as well and cause more widespread damage than a weak tornado. This line continues to sag south and impact Rockland and Westchester Counties as well but was also beginning to lose its severe aspects as it tracked south.

At some point crews from the local National Weather Service office will go out to the areas where a tornado is suspected or reported to have made a touch down. They will look at the damage and determine if it was caused by microburst, straight line winds or a tornado. When looking for tornado damage it is a spiral pattern and it tends to be along a specific path and can be very localized, tornados in this part of the county do not always have the longest paths or the widest, they can be only a few hundred feet wide and only travel a few hundred feet or a few miles. The trees will have a lot of twisting damage and there will be a unique pattern to the damage they survey.

So in short, what really matters is that as with any science there is specific titles and causes as there is for damage in a storm, but we must all be humbled by the fact that whether it’s straight line winds or a microburst or a tornado it is all very damaging, very deadly and for anyone who went through it, very scary. We pour our hearts into keeping you all as far ahead of severe weather as possible. It breaks our heart to know that a life was lost in our region yesterday, and our thoughts are with everyone who’s lives and property have been impacted by this event. We also work to educate all of you on all the details of meteorology, because a greater understanding improves our ability to communicate the complexities and the threats involved in it.

Thank you all for allowing us the responsibility of getting this information out to you, please keep our region in your thoughts today, help a neighbor clean up, thank a first responder or get a utility crew some coffee. Winter storms and now this severe weather have caused heavy impacts on our utility crews over the last few months, probably the most concentrated amount of high impact utility hits that I can remember, they are working hard to get us back up and running, and our partners at Central Hudson do a great job preparing and staying ahead of weather events like this one. Keep your heads up and let’s rebuild and get back on our feet.

Tuesday Discussion : Strong Late Day T-Storms

A warm SW flow resulted in a warm and more humid day on Monday, with afternoon highs into the mid 70s for much of the region.  That SW flow will peak on Tuesday, and result in a hot and humid day.  Highs on Tuesday will climb into the mid 80s, with dew points well into the 60s and near 70° making it feel more like the upper 80s.  So be sure to dress appropriately on Tuesday… it’s going to feel like summer for a day.

But the real story on Tuesday will be what happens as a result of the heat and humidity.  We have an elevated risk of strong to severe thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon…

This image courtesy of the National Weather Service outlines the situation.  The entire Hudson Valley will be under a “Slight Risk”, and the northern half of the valley is under an “Enhanced Risk”… in fact, it’s likely that the “Enhanced Risk” area will be expanded to cover the entire Hudson Valley.

Summary of the Enhanced Risk Thunderstorm Threat

  • 15% to 30% risk of damaging wind gust over 50mph
  • 15% to 30% risk of hail 1″ in diameter
  • 2% to 5% risk of a tornado

(% risk based on probability of occurance within 30 miles of any location)

So we’ve got a very real thunderstorm threat to contend with on Tuesday.  Here’s what the simulated radar is expected to look like for Tuesday afternoon…

The threat peaks between 3pm and 6pm from NW to SE during the day on Tuesday.  So our viewers in the Catskills and northern Hudson Valley are likely to see the strong to severe thunderstorms between 3pm and 4pm, the mid Hudson Valley should see the threat between 4pm and 5pm, and the lower Hudson Valley likely between 5pm and 6pm.  But as always… lets make sure to track the threat as it unfolds on Tuesday.

We’ll have updates on social media as the situation plays out.  Expect Severe Thunderstorm Watches to be issued around lunch time, just so you know what to expect… and then we’ll try to share warnings as they are issued.  You can get the latest warnings at the top of this page, and use the radar to track the storms as they move in.  Otherwise, please feel free to get updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

A busy day ahead of us on Tuesday.  We hope you have a great day!

Monday Discussion : A Day Too Late

Mother Nature was quite unhappy on Mother’s Day… at least that was the perception with all the light rain showers we saw over parts of the region.  Perhaps our northern viewers faired better and saw some breaks of sunshine.  But for those of us in the Mid and Lower Hudson Valley… Mother’s Day Sunday was a soggy and cool day.

Of course now that Monday is arriving, and the work week upon us… things look to improve quite nicely…

A look at the futurecast map for 2pm, and you’ll see clouds mixing with breaks of sunshine.  The dash lines on the close up indicate partly cloudy skies, with the solid gray color meaning overcast skies.  There are a few light sprinkles appearing in the southern Catskills… but the vast majority of the valley will remain dry to start the week.

SW winds will help usher in mild air, along with a bit of humidity.  Afternoon highs should be a few degrees on either side of 70s, which should make for a very comfortable day.

Tuesday we’ll see clouds on the advance once more from the north… as another cold front pushes southward, through our area.  Scattered showers and thunderstorms are likely for Tuesday afternoon, but the timing will become clearer.  For now… have a great start to your week!

Sunday Discussion : Unsettled Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day!  To all the amazing moms around the Hudson Valley, we hope you have an amazing day… regardless of the weather.  Because Mother Nature isn’t likely to do us many favors on Sunday… she surely isn’t making the forecast easy.

This image has the Hudson Valley circled, and you’ll notice that the northern half of the Hudson Valley looks drier and possibly even sunnier than the southern half of the valley.  So our Mother’s Day will likely be a tale of 2 weather stories.  That’s even more evident when you look at the projected high temperatures…

Where the sunshine peeks through, and the clouds aren’t so thick and low… temperatures could ‘surge’ into the mid and upper 60s… possibly even hitting 70° as you go further north.  However… the further south you go (south of I-84)… the thicker the clouds are expected to be, and the higher the chances of a spot shower and areas of drizzle are.  That will hold temperatures down in the 50s for many folks in the lower Hudson Valley.

So for Mother’s Day Sunday, expect clouds mixing with breaks of sun in the northern Hudson Valley, a spot shower can’t be ruled out… and highs in the 60s, warmer the further north you go.  For the lower half of the Hudson Valley… especially from I-84 on south… mainly cloudy skies are likely with a few showers and areas of drizzle likely.  Highs will struggle to get out of the 50s there.

Of course, if this boundary were to shift 25 miles further north or south… it could mean nicer or uglier conditions… so don’t bet any money on the forecast.  Have a great day!

Saturday Discussion : Raw Weekend Ahead

Mother’s Day weekend is on our doorstep.  And that means lots of indoor and outdoor events.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature isn’t feeling the love, and looks likely to rain on our parade.  So lets take a look at the weekend’s setup, and try to time out the rain threats.

Futurecast Radar: 12am Saturday – 12pm Saturday

Here is the simulated radar for the northeastern US on Saturday morning.  You’ll notice that rain showers are scattered about Hudson Valley area shortly after midnight… straight through the noon hour.  So anyone with outdoor plans early on Saturday, will need the umbrella… and should expect potential rain delays (we’re looking at you, little league players).

But the scattered rain showers will be in the Hudson Valley through the afternoon as well.  You’ll notice on this screen shot of the 12pm simulated Radar & Satellite image, that with this unsettled weather moving from west to east… that there is plenty more clouds and scattered rain showers to contend with, through the afternoon hours.  So if you have plans at any point on Saturday, you should factor in showers to the equation.

The low clouds and scattered rain showers will also go a long way toward keeping temperatures pinned down in the 50s…

If the clouds and scattered showers persist through the afternoon as expected… highs across the Hudson Valley will struggle into the low and mid 50s.  That’s roughly 15 to 20 degrees below average… so make sure you grab the coat.  But look at the image above one more time… and you’ll see the 70s over eastern Pennsylvania… where the sunshine and blue skies actually allow for extra warmth.  So exactly how much clouds and scattered showers hold on… will determine exactly how warm it does or does not get.

Mother’s Day Instability?…

Looking toward Mother’s Day… the stationary front that will cause the clouds and scattered showers on Saturday, will likely linger through much of Sunday.  However, it does appear that the boundary may dip just a few miles further south on Mother’s Day, and if it does… we could luck out just a bit…

So there is a decent chance that conditions on Mother’s Day will be better than on Saturday.  But we’ll have to wait and see, because the devil will be in the details… and 50 miles is a VERY SMALL distance in the weather world.  So it’s entirely possible that the boundary could be a bit further north on Sunday… and the weather could disappoint.  So cross your fingers that this position of the boundary holds as shown… which would give us a decent shot at a decent Mother’s Day.

For now… have a great start to your weekend!

Thursday Discussion : Mid Day Showers and Late Day Storms

A beautiful day lined up on Thursday, but we’ll also have to deal with bouts of instability across the Hudson Valley.  In general, we’ll have a mix of clouds and sunshine, and a warm SW wind.  Afternoon highs will climb into the mid 70s for most of us, with a warm, spring feel in the air.

But a cold front is approaching, and it will translate into two periods of instability across the region.  The first around lunch time… and the second near the evening commute and sunset…


Here is a closeup view of the Hudson Valley, and you’ll notice that a weak band of showers pushes through around mid day… almost falling apart as it reaches the Hudson Valley.  This could touch off a few scattered showers… maybe even a rumble of thunder… anytime between 11am and 2pm across the region.  But it’s later in the day, that a more potent line of showers and thunderstorms should develop.

As the evening commute approaches… a strong line of showers and thunderstorms likely approaches from the west.  The timing on these storms is likely 5pm to 8pm from west to east, just in time for the evening commute.  These storms could contain:

– Strong wind gusts over 50mph (5% to 15% chance)
– hail (less than 5% chance)
– tornado (less than 2% chance)

The chances of any of these occurring are based on the odds of the event occurring within 30 miles of your location.  So for perspective, if you’re standing in Newburgh, there is roughly a 5% to 15% chance that a severe thunderstorm with damaging wind occurs anywhere from Middletown to Poughkeepsie, down to Monroe… and a less than 5% chance of hail over 1/4″… and less than a 2% chance of a tornado occurring.  So hopefully that puts the severe threat into perspective.

We’ll try to have radar updates on the Facebook page as things unfold, but feel free to use the mobile app and website to track the situation as well.

Have a great Thursday!