JAVA, N.Y. (WROC) — On the morning of Thursday, July 28th a rare EF-2 tornado touched down in Wyoming county causing damage ranging from several downed trees to a collapsed barn.

While Western New York is capable of seeing tornadoes, it’s worth putting some perspective on just how rare seeing a tornado of this strength is for our region. 

For Wyoming county, it’s been 24 years since their last confirmed tornado, and Thursday’s event was a humble reminder to residents — including Lisa McCormick from the town of Bliss — that even Western New York can get destructive tornadoes causing damage that reflects something seen out of Tornado Alley. 

“Fifteen years ago, maybe we had tornado warnings. We get tornado warnings occasionally, but usually, it’s like Western New York it doesn’t specifically mean here. We’re known for our snowstorms, not tornadoes around here,” said Lisa.

It’s that fact alone that makes any tornado occurrence around here the talk of the town. Even Monroe county has seen around five weaker tornadoes rated as EF-0 to EF-1, including on Wheatland Center Road right behind me back in the summer of 2020, but it’s the most recent tornado’s strength that has us really impressed.

In the past 72 years, there have only been 3 EF or F2 tornadoes recorded in our demographic area. The second most recent was in Wayne county back in 2011 in the town of Savannah, and the other was Wyoming county’s second EF-2 tornado event back in 1998 in the town of Orangeville. These three events are all tied for the strongest tornado ever recorded for us since 1950.

Mike Fries from the National Weather Service in Buffalo said it’s not unheard of, but much less frequent, to see storms like this even for areas of far Western New York. 

“The majority of them that we would have in most areas would be an EF-0 or a 1. I wouldn’t say it’s unheard of at all, no, but it would be far less frequent than an EF-0 or an EF-1,” said Mike.

Despite much of the damage that properties took, it’s a miracle no one was injured or killed in the path of the storm.

Data courtesy: Storm Events Database from National Climatic Data Center