It was a loud night for many across WNY as strong to severe thunderstorms rolled across the area. The News 8 Weather Team spent the night breaking into programming as we tracked storms that were capable of producing significant wind damage. For folks in the Conesus & Springwater area, one storm in particular appears to have produced a brief tornado.
Here’s how it works: A storm produces damage. If significant enough, a team from the National Weather Service will visit the location and conduct a storm survey, analyzing damage extent and patterns. Straight-line wind damage often produces a different signature than tornadic wind damage where winds have a rotational component to them. For example, tornadoes tend to produce a convergent damage pattern. Downbursts do the opposite, damage tends to be divergent.
This survey produced results suggesting EF-1 tornado damage with maximum winds of 110 mph. According to the report, the tornado touched down at 12:57 am on September 13th near the town lines of Conesus and Springwater. It traveled southeast through Webster’s Crossing. Damage began just to the west of Route 15 and continued across the intersection of Main and 15 before crossing Marrowback Road. Multiple hardwood and softwood trees were sheared off mid-trunk or uprooted. An outdoor shed was crushed. Winds moved a trailered boat and an antique plow from their pre-storm positions. We have not heard any reports of injuries.
It is important to note that this storm did NOT have a Tornado Warning with it. It did, however, have a Severe Thunderstorm Warning at the time. This tornado was on the ground for 3 minutes and likely touched down and lifted in between radar scans, rendering it “invisible” on radar data. These brief spinups serve as reminders to take Severe Thunderstorm Warnings seriously as they sometimes can produce short-lived tornadoes. Oddly enough, this was the only storm report in our area from this event. My two cents here, winds aloft with this complex were particularly intense. Radar was sampling 100+ mph winds aloft as this storm moved through Livingston county. Christine and I noted on several occasions some concern with these winds aloft. While I am not overly surprised to see a brief spinup be produced, I am quite surprised this was apparently the only storm that was able to tap into that higher velocity air aloft to translate it to the ground, whether through a downburst or additional spinups. In that sense, we were lucky this tornado was apparently the only game in town.
-Chief Meteorologist Eric Snitil