2007 Brooklyn tornadoes
|Date of tornado outbreak:||August 8, 2007|
|Duration1:||20 minutes (approx.)|
|Maximum rated tornado2:||EF2 tornado|
|Tornadoes caused:||2 (confirmed)|
|Damages:||US$20 Million (early est.)|
|Areas affected:||Staten Island, Brooklyn|
1Time from first tornado to last tornado
The 2007 Brooklyn tornado was the strongest tornado on record to strike in New York City. It formed in the early morning hours of August 8, 2007, skipping along an approximately 9 miles (14 km)-long path, from Staten Island across the The Narrows to Brooklyn. The worst damage was in and around Sunset Park and Bay Ridge, in Brooklyn. The U.S. National Weather Service estimated its strength there as an EF2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.
No serious injuries or fatalities were reported as a result of the tornado, but several people were treated at area hospitals for flying glass injuries. At least 40 buildings and 100 cars were damaged. New York State Senator Martin Golden’s office estimated damages in the tens of millions of U.S. dollars.
The storm system produced severe street flooding, and disrupted all modes of transportation throughout the city. Service was delayed or suspended on all 24 New York City Subway services during the morning rush hour, and nine services were still not running by the evening rush.
History of the storm
The typical summer storm system that spawned the tornado gathered strength over Pennsylvania, caused heavy rain over New Jersey and continued its eastward movement, reaching New York City at sunrise.
According to the National Weather Service, the first tornado first touched down in Staten Island at approximately 6:22 am EDT (1022 UTC) in the vicinity of St. Austins Place in the Livingston - Randall Manor area, before moving east, with additional damage occurring in the Tompkinsville area, probably from a subsequent tornado that formed from a new area of circulation just north of the first tornado. Most of the damage on Staten Island was to trees, and was rated EF1 intensity with estimated winds of 86–100 miles per hour (138–161 km/h).
The circulation intensified, and headed east across The Narrows tidal strait, just north of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and the tornado re-developed and touched down again in Brooklyn, at Bay Ridge at 6:32 am EDT. It continued on an east-northeast path across 68th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues, damaging the roofs of 11 homes. The storm continued to move east-northeast into Leif Ericson Park Square, where severe damage to trees occurred, and where winds blew out a 15-foot-tall (4.6 m) stained glass window valued at $300,000 at the nearby Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church It then crossed the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. The tornado touched down farther northeast with scattered tree damage along Sixth Avenue. Based on the assessed damage this stage of the tornado was classified EF2 with wind speeds of 111 to 135 mph (161 to 215 km/h).
The tornado returned to the ground with another pocket of significant damage on 58th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. Roofs were ripped off of 5 homes, with tree damage indicating strong EF1 damage. The tornado then headed east and touched down again in Kensington and the Flatbush neighborhood of Prospect Park South at approximately 6:40 am EDT. Approximately 30 trees were uprooted along Ocean Parkway.
The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for portions of Staten Island and Brooklyn at 6:28 am. Tornado warnings were also briefly issued for Manhattan, Queens and Nassau County on Long Island, but no tornadoes were reported in those areas.
New York City tornado history
There were five previous tornadoes in New York City on record, but none as strong as this one. The New York City borough of Staten Island has had the most tornadoes on record of any of the five boroughs, with a total of three, all since 1990. Meteorologists believed this storm produced the first tornado in Brooklyn since 1889, before reliable records were kept. The five previous twisters on record are:
- October 27, 2003 — An F0 tornado touches down briefly in Staten Island
- October 28, 1995 — An F1 tornado touches down in Staten Island with light damage
- August 10, 1990 — An F0 tornado on Staten Island injures three people
- October 5, 1985 — An F1 tornado in Queens injures six people.
- September 2, 1974 — An F1 tornado moved from Westchester into the Bronx
New York media coverage of the event focused on the novelty of the event and its disruption of subway service (this was the third time in 2007 when heavy rain had caused disruptions in subway service).
The main article in the Daily News was headlined “Brooklyn becomes Tornado Alley!” with a subheading of “First twister to rip through boro since 1889; S.I. driver dies”. Related articles in the News were headlined:
- New York's rain of terror
- A sweaty horde crosses Brooklyn Bridge - into chaos
- Church shattered by lost window
- It's transit hell from heavens
- Oar-to-door service
- The wind & tot screamed
- Weather predictors 'blew it,' official says
The main article inside the Post read: “Brooklyn Cyclone” (playing on the pun of the famous Coney Island Cyclone in Brooklyn and the baseball team of the same name). The teaser on the front page depicted Dorothy Gale from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz proclaiming “This ain't Kansas”. An inside side bar in the Post had eyewitness accounts headlined “Wet & Wild”.
The New York Times front page main headline was “Subways to Rooftops, a Storm Brings Havoc to New York” The three front page stories were headlined “Transportation Paralysis”, "Déjà vu Down Under", "Yes a Tornado in Brooklyn."
The New York Times quoted an eyewitness, who said, "It was a funnel shape...It looked kind of black and blue...it was way up high and came right down on the roof of (a department store)...Pieces of the roof were all over the place. It was a big bang."
The New York Sun read: “It’s Frustrating, It’s Insanity” with a subhead “Anger Erupts At Subway; Tornado Hits”.
The press coverage also examined the link between the storm and global warming, given the tornado's historic nature, and the other recent subway service interruptions caused by torrential rain on July 18 and the previous winter. Official statements alluded to this as well. "We may be dealing with meteorological conditions that are unprecedented," said Metropolitan Transportation Authority Executive Director Elliot G. Sander in the immediate aftermath, and New York Governor Eliot Spitzer said the day after, "This is supposed to be a rainfall event that is a once-in-a-decade occurrence -- we've had three in the past seven months." Climate scientist James E. Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University in New York City cautioned against linking any single event with global warming, but did say that the probability of severe weather events is related. "You cannot blame a single specific event, such as this week's storm, on climate change. However, it is fair to ask whether the human changes have altered the likelihood of such events. There the answer seems to be 'yes.'", he was quoted as saying.
- List of North American tornadoes and tornado outbreaks
- List of tornadoes striking downtown areas
- Tornadoes of 2007
- "Public Information Statement". National Weather Service, Upton, NY. 2007-08-08. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- "Gothamist: Tornado Did Touch Down in Brooklyn". The Gothamist. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- "Tornado Ravages Southwest Brooklyn". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 2007-08-08. Retrieved 2007-08-08. "40 Buildings, 100 Cars Damaged : Early estimates by state Sen. Marty Golden’s office put damages possibly in the tens of millions of dollars."
- "New York Commuters Meet Hours of Delays After Deluge". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- "Flooded subways? A Brooklyn Tornado? Some Blame Global Warming". Associated Press (1010 WINS). 2007-08-09. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-08-11.
- Church shattered by lost window – New York Daily News – August 8, 2007
- "NWS: Twister Touches Down in Bay Ridge". 1010 [[WINS (AM)|]]. 2007-08-08. Archived from the original on 2007-08-24. Retrieved 2007-08-08. "The National Weather Service had records of at least five, plus sketchy detail on the last reported tornado sighting in Brooklyn, in 1889. None was as strong as Wednesday's twister."
- "Island's weather likes to keep residents guessing - SILive.com". Staten Island Advance. Retrieved 2007-08-08. "Only three twisters have ever been officially recorded in our borough, all of them weak F0 or F1 tornadoes..."
- "A Brooklyn tornado is a rarity; the last one was in 1889". Associated Press (Newsday.com). Retrieved 2007-08-08. "Meteorologists believed this storm produced the first tornado in Brooklyn since 1889"
- Brick, Michael (2003-10-29). "If It Walks Like, and Quacks Like, a Tornado". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- "NYC Hazards: Tornadoes". nyc.gov. New York City Office of Emergency Management. Retrieved 2007-08-08. "Though generally associated with the central United States, tornadoes occasionally occur in New York City."
- "Cleanup Follows Path of Tornado on Staten Island". New York Times. 1990-08-12. Retrieved 2007-08-08. "A rare TORNADO hit the New York borough of STATEN ISLAND on Friday, uprooting several trees and disrupting gas and electrical service."
- Schneider, Daniel B. (2003-10-29). "F.Y.I.". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-08. "Tornadoes were reported in Staten Island in 1990 and 1995, and in 1974, A twister from Westchester wandered into The Bronx."
- Tornado Hits Brooklyn; Subway Back in Service - The New York Times - August 8, 2007
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tornado Damages of Brooklyn, New York City.|
- Public Information Statement...Revised, Tornado Damage Survey, National Weather Service, Upton NY, issued 2:32 PM EDT Tuesday August 14, 2007