New Yorkers have plenty to stress about — coronavirus, shrinking 401(k)s, dwindling toilet-paper supply. But tornadoes aren’t one of them.
The tornado season kicked off last Sunday and, just two days later, a pair of twisters tragically left two dozen dead and scores injured across middle Tennessee.
But a tornado that fierce has a snowball’s chance in hell of happening here, according to meteorologist Brian Ciemnecki of the National Weather Service.
“It wouldn’t be a scene out of ‘Twister,’” Ciemnecki said. “You’re not going to see the back of a taxi dangling off a skyscraper, that’s for sure.”
Tornadoes do touch down in the Northeast, but we don’t get nearly as many as the South and Midwest — and ours simply aren’t as intense because we have fewer air masses clashing overhead, according to Ciemnecki.
“Right off the bat,” he said, “there’s just a whole lot more commotion in that area.”
Both Tennessee twisters registered near the top of the weather service’s Enhanced Fujita Scale, which ranks tornadoes from EF0 to EF5 based on wind speed. One swirled up to 167 mph; the other clocked in at 175 mph.
New York City has had only 15 tornadoes in the past 50 years — and the strongest skipped across Brooklyn in 2007 at wind speeds of up to 137 mph, which made it an EF2. The others were evenly split: seven EF0s, up to 85 mph, and seven EF1s, up to 109 mph.
One EF1, a decade ago in Queens, killed a woman when high winds brought a tree down on her car. Flying glass and debris from the EF2 injured nine.
“A 2 is a decent one for up here,” Ciemnecki said.
In the past 50 years, 15 tornadoes have touched down in New York City — roughly one every three years. By year and strength, with F0 the weakest and F5 the strongest:
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