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.