After touring damage in central New York left behind by yesterday's strong tornado that killed four people, Governor Andrew Cuomo said "We don't get tornadoes in New York, right? Anyone will tell you that. Well, we do now." Except he's wrong. Really wrong. Really, really wrong.
Yesterday's tornado struck Smithfield, New York with winds of "at least 100 MPH" according to the National Weather Service meteorologists surveying the damage. Four people were killed in three different houses when the tornado swept through the community.
The tornado was one of the hundreds that have hit New York in the past sixty years, and it's not even the first one to strike this year. Just last month a half-mile wide EF-3 tornado struck Duanesburg, New York.
New York is certainly not tornado alley, but the northeastern state sees its fair share of severe weather each year. The Empire State has seen 409 tornadoes since we began keeping records in 1950, for an annual average of 6 to 7 tornadoes each year. Most tornado activity in New York occurs during the summer and fall months, which holds true for both the state's strongest and deadliest tornadoes.
The strongest tornado to hit New York was an F4 that struck near Albany on July 10, 1989, and the deadliest was an F1 that struck a school cafeteria in Orange County, killing 9 students inside.
Whether Cuomo himself is woefully unaware of his own state's climatology or he was fed bad information by his staffers, his statement was certainly not true. New York gets tornadoes, and it gets them every year. Anyone will tell you that.
[Image via AP, map by the author, video via WCBS]