Did the severe storm that hit Central New York and the Mohawk Valley Tuesday include a tornado touchdown? Our Sarah Blazonis followed the trail of damage with meteorologists who worked to answer that very question.
CANASTOTA, N.Y. - Uprooted trees, holes left from golf ball sized-hail, and newly missing roofs are some of the evidence of the severe storm that rocked Central New York Tuesday, but it's what can no longer be seen that some say they'll remember most.
"As I looked up as the storm was approaching, I could actually see swirling clouds actually above the house here," said James Dick, who was at the Oneida Lake Marina when he saw the approaching storm.
"My son-in-law came in and said the tornado was coming, to get in cover," said Linda Johnson, Dick's mother-in-law.
Initially it wasn't clear if reports of a funnel cloud actually signified a tornado or if it was just straight line winds caused by the thunderstorms. That's where the National Weather Service's storm survey team comes in.
"It's not as uncommon as people might think," said NWS meteorologist Mike Jurewicz. "In Central New York, we tend to average maybe two to three tornadoes per season."
Jurewicz and fellow meteorologist Steven Ippoliti documented the trail of damage through photos and interviews with witnesses like Robert Hansen. He says he watched as the roof blew off of his family's barn and into a neighbor's yard.
"I was working and then saw the steel go and everything else," said Hansen. When asked if he'd ever seen a storm like it, Hansen responded, "No, not in 87 years."
Damage like this fallen tree is important evidence to consider when trying to determine if a storm was a tornado, but meteorologists say just as important is following the pattern of that evidence.
"We can get clues to how the wind was circulating when the damaged happened; certain directions things were blown down. So, we're looking for patterns, so once we piece everything together and then look at it in tandem with the radar, we usually get a pretty good idea," said Jurewicz.
While the NWS said most damage was caused by straight-line winds, it did confirm an F1 tornado touched down near Rt. 49 and Lauther Rd. in Verona Mills.