Tornado touches down in Queens


| brennison@queenscourier.com |

Breezy

More than a breeze spun through Breezy Point last weekend as a tornado touched down, disrupting the oceanside community.

Trees and roofs took the brunt of the damage during the twister that tore through Queens on Saturday, September 1. Several roofs were torn off at the Breezy Point Surf Club.

Nobody was hurt at the club, said General Manager Bob Ordan, and he expects cleanup to last a couple of more weeks.

“We’re lucky the storm hit this weekend and not last weekend,” Councilmember Eric Ulrich said, who surveyed the damage in the area shortly after the storm. “Because last weekend the Surf Club was filled with people.”

Saturday saw a lot of wind shear in the atmosphere, which is the turning of winds and a key ingredient in tornadoes, said National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Joey Picca. The moisture and storms in the area combined with the wind shear resulted in the tornado. Winds were estimated at 70 mph, placing it at the lower end of the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which measures the storms.

Joey Mure, 16, just got home from the gym when he saw the tornado across the water near Coney Island.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It was huge.”

The Breezy Point resident said he could hear a whistle from the storm, but that was soon overtaken by the sounds of sirens.

This is not the first time a tornado has touched down in Queens in recent years. The city has experienced an uptick in these cyclones, though Picca said it is too short of a period to say with certainty that a trend is developing. Between 1950 and 2010, the area was hit with 10 tornadoes.

“We’re much better at observing tornadoes now. So it’s certainly possible that long ago there were one or two that were missed,” he said.

Assemblymember Philip Goldfeder said in the future he hopes warning times for tornadoes can be increased.

“When people started to see [the tornado] was the first time we got the warning,” he said.

The NWS put out a tornado warning at 10:55 a.m., minutes before the wind tunnel landed in Queens.

Picca said weaker twisters are harder to detect ahead of time resulting in warning times of mere minutes.

Mure said he hopes there is not a need for a warning anytime soon.

“I hope I never see one again.”