Friday, July 27, 2012

The Tornado Chronicles: Elmira, NY Tornado of 7-26-12

A tornado and damaging straight line and/or downburst winds struck Elmira, NY during the late afternoon hours of Thursday, July 26, 2012.

According to the preliminary results of the National Weather Service (NWS) survey, the tornado first touched down at around 4pm EDT near Miracle Lane off of Route 352, just West of Elmira.  The tornado then tracked in a general Easterly direction on the North side of the Chemung River for approximately 9.7 miles.  This path took the tornado through West Elmira and into the downtown area along Church Street.

In Elmira, the damage path reportedly widened to around 600 yards between Route 14 and Route 17 in the downtown area.  The tornado then turned toward the Southeast and traveled in a path near Jerusalem Hill Road, before lifting near the intersection of Jerusalem Hill Road and Monkey Run Road.

The following maps are approximations as to the track, based on the NWS survey report:

Wide View of Entire Track

Closer View of Elmira

The following damage photos have come forth via twitter (original photographers unknown, except for photo #3, which was taken by an Associated Press photographer):

The following YouTube video of the damage has recently been posted.  It is rather lengthy and unfortunately the resolution (screen size) is not great, but some of the footage of the damage is very telling.  I listened to the audio of the entire tape, and I do not believe that there is any profanity:

The NWS survey has assigned a preliminary intensity rating of EF-1 for this tornado, with maximum winds estimated at 105-110 mph.  

Thus far, I have not seen any photos or video of the actual tornado itself.  This is not surprising since this type of tornado often takes place within a "rotating comma head" of a thunderstorm that is producing damaging straight line and/or downburst winds.  In this type of situation the tornado is often hidden by rain and is not visible to the naked eye (or camera).  There are several fake photos floating around on social media outlets that are clearly not the tornado in question.

Amazingly, there were no serious injuries reported, despite the fact that the tornado tracked directly through the center of town.

If you have an interest in this tornado event, please bookmark this post and check back for additional information, photos and videos over the coming days.

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1 comment:

jntkwx said...

The first image can be credited to Samantha Smink/WETM according to

The second image can be credited to AP/Heather Ainsworth, according to