NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Officials with the National Weather Service confirmed Wednesday morning that a tornado touched down in Ronkonkoma during Tuesday’s storms.
The EF0 tornado had maximum winds of 85 mph.
“We’re looking at a path length of about 400 yards,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Ross Dickman. The damage stretched from Iroquois Street to Seneca and North Ontario streets.
“As soon as I heard a loud snap, the first thing I am thinking, is she ok?” said resident Dylan Neill. Their baby, 15-month-old Quinn, was nearly trapped in their home along with her family. Dylan and his wife Nicole grabbed Quinn and had to maneuver through trees to get out of their house.
“As we went out into the street, looking around, the wires came down. There were fires starting in the trees. It was really bad,” Dylan said.
The National Weather Service a tornado touched down in an isolated section of Ronkonkoma with winds up to 85 mph. The determination came after an up-close examination of tree shearing, damage to siding, gutters, and outdoor furniture.
“You absolutely do have to come and assess the damage. What you look for is wind in a convergent pattern,” Dickman said.
Amazingly, there was no loss of life or serious injuries, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported. But it was heart-stopping as it roared through without notice at 11:20 p.m.
“A freight train. An actual freight train for about two minutes long. That’s what it sounded like. It was horrible. Scary,” said resident Peter Klages. His family described panic and then calm as neighbors bonded with emotions.
Nicole Brewster held her little baby girl tight.
“As long as she’s OK. She’s OK, so I’m OK,” Brewster said.
“Like a train was going through my backyard,” resident Helen Johnson told CBS2. The tornado sent a tree crashing down on her cars, and sent her fence flying into the middle of the street. “It just sounded like a really loud train going through my house. It was crazy. It was frightening.”
It’s unusual for a tornado to touch down on Long Island, Dickman said. The last one that struck went from Oakdale to Bohemia in 2012. Dickman said this one was a bit worse.
“We’ve seen trees down, we’ve seen power lines down, there’s been some siding peeled off a few houses, backyard furniture that was in one house and now its completely in another person’s yard,” Dickman said.
“This particular storm was more of a quick spin-up, in fact it didn’t travel very far, again it was only 400 yards wide, but occasionally tornadoes do start out of very strong severe thunderstorms,” he said.
Dickman said it was “very lucky” nobody was hurt when the tornado touched down.
“Fortunately, nobody did lose their life and occasionally this type of thing happens,” Dickman said. “It’s very rare for this to happen in October. We would have to go back and take a look at our records to see exactly when the last time we had tornadoes on Long Island in October, very unusual. But we did have a very warm, unstable air mass across the area yesterday and with the cold front through the area it was enough to produce this severe weather.”
Additional tornadoes were confirmed in Stony Point in Rockland County, New Castle in Westchester County, and New Canaan in Connecticut.