A tornado watch has been issued for the Tompkins County area, effective until early Monday morning.

Sun File Photo

A tornado watch has been issued for the Tompkins County area, effective until early Monday morning.

April 15, 2019

National Weather Service Places Ithaca Under Tornado Watch, Effective Until Early Monday Morning

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The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center placed Tompkins County under a tornado watch Sunday night, effective until 5 a.m. Monday morning. The threat of storms includes the possibility of isolated hail, wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour and a few isolated tornadoes.

The NWS issued the watch at 9:55 p.m. on Sunday as a line of strong thunderstorms approached from the west. In a Facebook post, the Binghamton NWS office warned of “a couple tornadoes,” possible “small marble” sized hail, and winds up to 70 miles per hour.

A tornado watch, according to the NWS, means “tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area.” The NWS advises that people in areas under a watch be prepared to “act quickly” if a tornado approaches or a warning is issued.

On Sunday morning, the NWS Storm Prediction Center warned of an “enhanced risk” of strong storms across the Ohio River Valley vicinity. The post also warned that a large swath of the eastern United States could experience severe weather Sunday, placing a region extending from Rochester, N.Y. to the Florida Panhandle under a “slight risk” of severe weather.

The University’s “Weather Preparedness” section notes that “New York is not usually thought of as a tornado-prone state but in the last several decades we have seen an average of 9 tornadoes per year.”

If a tornado is approaching, the NWS recommends moving to a the lowest floor of a building, preferably a basement or a room without windows. If outside, moving to the “closest substantial shelter” is advised.

Aidan Mahoney ’22, Outreach Chair of Cornell’s chapter of the American Meteorological Society, advised Cornellians to maintain a “heightened awareness for a tornado to occur,” in a statement to The Sun. Mahoney stated that storms would likely enter the Ithaca area from 12:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday morning.

According to Mahoney, the last time a tornado watch was issued for Tompkins County was on Aug. 22, 2017. The last time a tornado touched down in the county was on April 28, 2011, Harrison Tran ’22 added.