Long Island twisters: 3 tornadoes flipped over small planes, ripped up trees, destroyed homes

New York State

NASSAU COUNTY — Three tornadoes touched down on Long Island on Saturday, National Weather Service officials said.

The most severe tornado, an EF-1, touched down in Shirley in Suffolk County. In addition to tree and home damage, the twister flipped over the 5-ton air handler unit on the roof of a supermarket before tearing off the parapet and collapsing the covered walkway of a Chipotle. Weather officials said the damage was consistent with winds up to 105 mph.

The tornado’s path took it through Brookhaven Calabro Airport, where it flipped over or shifted a few small, single-engine planes.

A Nassau twister, considered a EF-0 tornado with winds of 65 to 85 mph, first touched down in Woodmere, where several trees and power lines were downed. It lifted and traveled northeast toward Hempstead, Uniondale and Levittown. It touched down again in Uniondale and tore the roof off a building. The roof landed on a nearby house. Debris, including shingles, insulation and siding, was thrown into the next block.

A Suffolk tornado uprooted several dozen large oak, maple and pine trees, according to the NWS. A number of trees were also snapped at the trunk. The twister caused roof and siding damage for several homes. It was considered a EF-0 twister with winds of 65 to 85 mph.

Significant damage was reported in Levittown, where a tree fell onto a house.

Tornadoes aren’t typical in the month of November. We came close last year when a tornado warning was issued on Nov. 22, 2020 due to radar indicated rotation in the atmosphere. However, the NWS determined that the damage was caused by straight-line strong wind gusts.  

Fast forward to this year, so far there have been nine tornado warnings this month for our area. That’s the most tornado warnings in a month since September 2012.

Levittown resident Ed Warch, whose neighbor’s home fell victim to a decades-old oak tree, said he was “stunned” by the destruction.

Elsewhere in the town, residents said they watched a tornado touch down in the streets. According to those residents, the twister decimated power lines and shook homes.

Carol Nelson says she waited out the storm from inside her home.

“I look out and see the wind is picking up and just at that minute as I pull down the shade I swear the stuff that was blowing in the street unbelievable,” said Nelson.

Nelson can’t believe the intensity of what touched down in her neighborhood.

She may have been spared of any major damage but across the street on Clover Lane, neighbors said renovators working on a home escaped just moments before a massive tree toppled onto the roof.

Around the corner, on Cornflower Road,  another massive tree fell over on a family’s home.

PSEG reported more than 12,000 power outages across the Island.

“I think we all were lucky that someone wasn’t killed or hurt,” said Nelson.

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