Powerful storm rips through Oswego County
A violent storm swept across Oswego County just before 11 a.m. Tuesday, drenching the Port City and the surrounding area in heavy rains while simultaneously knocking out power and ripping down trees and power lines. A tornado was even reported at Sandy Pond.
Emergency responders and Department of Public Works employees were busy Tuesday afternoon attending to 140 incidents reported to the county’s 911 Call Center. Mike Allen, the center’s director, said the storm hit Oswego, Oswego Town, Lacona and Sandy Creek the hardest, all of which are municipalities located on the lakeshore. “As you went inland, it slowed down a little,” he said.
Jeff McCrobie, first assistant fire chief for the Oswego Fire Department, said the department was running five crews after Tuesday’s storm. “We’ve been hopping around,” he said. “We’ve done 30 calls during crunch time.”
The east side fire station was operating on an emergency generator because it lost its power along with a number of other people on the city’s east side. During the aftermath of the storm, McCrobie said firefighters were out and about checking on downed power lines, trees that landed on houses and trees blocking roadways.
According to the National Grid Web site, a total of 19,532 customers in Oswego County were affected by the storm; 2,855 in the city of Oswego alone. Patrick Stella, the local spokesman for National Grid, said survey teams and crews were coming in from other areas Tuesday afternoon to help out county residents. “We have crews out there planning to work through the night to restore power,” he said.
Trevor “Chuck” Reynolds was home in bed in the house he shares with his mother, Susan, at 146 W. Third St., Oswego, when a giant tree in his backyard came crashing through his upstairs bathroom. “I was five feet away from where the tree fell,” he said. “The roof cracked and water started pouring in.”
Reynolds said he had to run around his room to grab his two terrified dogs after the tree’s collapse. “It was so loud. The whole house shook. I tried to go into the bathroom, but I couldn’t open the door,” he said, noting that the tree was prohibiting him from entering. The chimney also fell onto his mom’s Ford Mustang parked in the driveway.
The tree caused major damage, leaving the house uninhabitable. The local Red Cross’ Disaster Action Team was called in to provide emergency assistance to Trevor and Susan.
According to local weather observer, Bill Gregway, since 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Port City received .97 inches of rain. The heaviest rainfall occurred between 11-11:05 a.m. when a half an inch fell. Gregway said the southwest winds were average between 50 and 60 mph and some even reached more than 70 mph.
“It intensified right over us,” the weather observer said, noting the storm was over by 11:30 a.m.
Gregway said a smaller storm rolled through around 1:30 a.m. and ended at 2 a.m. before the later storm struck. “It was a sharp thunderstorm and it had vivid lighting,” he said about the first storm.
“The big storm came through, this was really a squall line,” Gregway said. “It is the prelude to the cold front.” The weather observer said he spoke with meteorologist at the National Weather Service Center in Buffalo and that as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, the cold front had not rolled through Buffalo yet.
Michael Goldynch called in to report the tornado that touched down in Sandy Pond where he resides with his wife. “It’s been unbelievably good that we haven’t identified any major structural home damage,” he said.
However, for Don Dowd, who owns a summer camp in Sandy Pond, the storm wasn’t nearly as kind, destroying the porch, windows and sending trees crashing onto the roof. “The two dogs and I had nowhere to go,” Dowd, who owns two black labs, said. “It sounded like a steam kettle with all the windows whistling and everything. I’ve never ever seen or heard anything like it in my life.”
Dowd said the windows came off their frames and blew into the camp and the front porch was knocked off its foundation. “The camp’s not OK, but I’m fine,” he said.
According to Goldynch, there were more than a dozen trees in his yard that were ripped up from the tornado. He also said the roads were impassable from downed trees and that most residents were without power. “The phone lines seem to be intact even though the lines are down under the trees,” he said.
Goldynch said he was not able to see the tornado because of the heavy rains. “The wind came up off the lake and it was blowing directly at our place and the window became a sheet of water.”
National Grid crews were working to restore power all evening and did not have an estimate as to when power would be completely restored to all areas.